Houston and Gulf Coast Ports Expected to Resume Operations by Labor Day

Despite the destructive wake of Hurricane Harvey, which was officially classified as a Category 4 hurricane, the majority of affected Gulf Coast ports are hoping to resume normal operations by Labor Day. Though the Coast Guard has already reinstated partial operations at a few smaller Gulf Coast ports, namely Corpus Christi, Lake Charles and Galveston, it has not yet given Houston, which is responsible for nearly 70% of containerized imports to the Gulf Coast, the all clear.

The Port of Houston, which was at the epicenter of Harvey, suffered minimal damage even though water levels rose by over 4ft in certain areas. Still, the effects of the storm will significantly impact transit and delivery times as highways and rail lines around Houston remain flooded and inoperable. The three largest providers of rail service in the area, Union Pacific, BNSF And Kansas City Southern, have completely ceased operations in and out of Houston until further notice. In light of expected delays, carriers with vessels that were bound for Houston prior to Harvey’s landfall have issued the following statements and/or implemented the following diversion plans:

  • 2M Alliance Updates: The Maersk Ohio, which was set to call Houston this week, will divert to Freeport. Upon arrival at Freeport, containers bound for the US will be loaded onto the Maersk Denver, which is expected to call Houston on Saturday. The MSC Sao Paulo, which typically calls Houston and then Mobile, will now call Mobile first and then proceed to Houston once permitted.
  • COSCO/OOCL Updates: The Cosco Auckland is currently anchored near Galveston and will plan to make its final trek to Houston once the port has cleared vessels for entry.
  • Seaboard Marine Updates: Per the JOC, “Seaboard Marine said the Constantin S, scheduled to call at Seaboard’s Jacintoport in Houston on Thursday, instead would call New Orleans, which avoided the brunt of the storm.”

The reopening of the Port of Houston in such a quick fashion will be a significant accomplishment, but it will take weeks, if not months, for the port to fully recover amid a new environment of delayed transit and escalating rates.

Shapiro will continue to monitor the situation in Houston and will provide updates as they become available.