2017- Year In Review
MISSION STATEMENT: To promote cooperation and efficiency within the maritime community through vessel information, port information, networking, and advocacy.
It’s definitely been a year for the history books in Houston. It began with the first 100 days of a new presidential administration, hosting a Super Bowl, paused for weathering a storm worthy of a chapter in the Odyssey, and wrapped up with the Astros winning their first World Series! It’s been a year of seeing communities pull together, and no less so in the port region. This lent new significance to the Port Bureau’s mission to promote cooperation and efficiency within the maritime community.
Our mission objectives kept us focused on the best opportunities and events for putting our resources to work for our members and to promote the value of the port industry.
Advocacy & Outreach
Our message to public officials, media, and the world-at-large contains one overarching theme: The Houston Ship Channel is a national resource. It is a fast-paced, vital artery pumping billions of dollars into the national economy, and continuing to invest in the Ship Channel keeps commerce flowing. With 274 facilities in the port region, we are one of the largest manufacturing centers in the U.S., and this a place where people know how to get things done safely and efficiently.
The Port Bureau staff worked on a diverse number of projects to support the local maritime industry and to keep the spotlight on the needs of the port region with public officials and the broader community.
CAPT Diehl spoke to numerous groups throughout the year to promote and advocate for the port region. His audiences ranged from industry groups to foreign consulates to trade commissions to new business prospects for the local maritime community. CAPT Diehl traveled with the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region to Washington, D.C., in March to urge backing for initiatives that will support the area for many years to come.
In June, Port Bureau Chairman Flournoy signed a letter to the Texas Department of Transportation supporting TxDOT’s grant application to develop an extreme weather event risk model for the Houston area. Chairman Flournoy also signed a letter on behalf of the Board of Directors supporting the Tentatively Selected Plan for the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project.
Engagement with media increased this year as CAPT Diehl participated in interviews regarding port capacity and the economic value of the Houston Ship Channel. He spoke to the Houston Chronicle, Bloomberg, on the radio, including Radio Panama, and to industry publications including Platts and Argus Media. These relationships proved valuable to the community during the hurricane and subsequent recovery because our media partners knew they could call the Port Bureau for timely and accurate information.
The Port Bureau’s Traffic Efficiency and Dredging Committees, initiated in 2015, and the Advocacy Advisory Board, which kicked off just this fall, addressed challenges that impact the entire port region. The Traffic Efficiency Committee conducted an analysis of the efficiency of chemical tanker movements and found that almost 38% of chemical tanker movements had no revenue generating purpose. Based on these findings, the Committee began building cost models that will capture the total cost to both terminals and vessels, so that the true cost of chemical tanker movement inefficiency is apparent.
The Dredging Committee created advocacy pamphlets that were distributed to several members of Congress during CAPT Diehl’s March trip to D.C. Additionally, the Committee launched a website in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to compile available recovery assets in the Houston-Galveston region, including dredging, marine construction, and even emergency housing resources.
The Advocacy Advisory Board worked with industry partners to highlight the benefits of the Houston Ship Channel and to dispel misconceptions about challenges on the channel. One of its first projects was to develop a survey to investigate investments related to exports in the Houston region.
The Port Bureau staff also continued participation in the Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee and its subcommittees, examining the issues affecting the maritime community.CAPT Diehl serves on the board of the Houston International Seafarers’ Center. The Port Bureau was privileged to join other industry organizations as Port Houston Executive Director and Port Bureau Board Member Roger Guenther was honored at the Seafarers’ Center Maritime Gala in May.
Networking & Business Development Events
Networking and business development opportunities accelerated during this year of surprises. Our 2017 flagship event, the 88th Annual Maritime Dinner, attracted over 700 guests to honor Port Houston Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria as the 2017 Maritime Person of the Year. Public
officials and leaders from industry, education, and the community gathered to recognize Chairman Longoria’s contributions to the port region, making it a milestone event for the Port Bureau and our members.
A line-up of informative guest speakers from diverse sectors of the port region industry kept attendance on the rise at our Commerce Club series of educational luncheons in 2017. Guests made Brady’s Landing their home port for each Commerce Club luncheon until Hurricane Harvey’s handiwork closed Brady’s for repairs. The Commerce Club quickly segued to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston Hobby Airport to finish out 2017.
BraeBurn Country Club, their greens in their usual beautiful state in spite of Harvey, was the site for the 9th Annual Captain’s Cup Golf Tournament in November. Team slots and sponsorships were sold-out once again, and the Rickmers-Line team won the tournament.
The Greater Houston Coffee Association (GHCA) hosted members and guests for a tour of the Ship Channel aboard the M/V Sam Houston in April. The GHCA also hosted their annual luncheon in conjunction with the Port Bureau’s October Commerce Club, member facilities and a special roundtable discussion with Gaviña during his visit to Houston. As the only certified coffee exchange port west of the Mississippi River, Houston is a strong center of trade for the coffee industry. Another great line-up of events, advantageous for businesses in the maritime community, is in the works for 2018.
Port Information: Analysis, Reports & Projects
The Port Bureau’s published a variety of reports in our monthly Port Bureau News magazine (see page 15). The 2017 editions are available for review in the on-line archive on the Port Bureau’s website. Spotlight articles focused on: Chairman Janiece Longoria, Port Houston; HDR, Inc.; Dave Grzebinski, Kirby Corporation; and Suderman & Young Towing Co.
The Port Bureau News also featured member news, regulation updates, industry developments, and a lighthearted guide to discovering Houston’s “hidden” ship channel.The Port Bureau partnered with the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives (IAMPE) to provide accredited training for a Maritime Port Executive education course in May. Certifications were awarded to six area professionals attending the five-day, graduate-level seminar including Christine Schlenker from the Port Bureau. The 2018 course is scheduled for April 9-13. Port Bureau members receive a 10% tuition discount.
Daily vessel movement reports, weekly estimated time of arrival reports, and monthly vessel statistical reports were produced by the Marine Exchange. The data collected and organized by the Marine Exchange underpins Port Bureau’s commitment to track and provide exceptional vessel movement data on Texas ports. Monthly statistical reports are a benefit provided to each member. Premium daily reports and other specialized vessel movements are available through subscriptions.
The Port Bureau keeps members advised of channel conditions during inclement weather and of other incidents through timely alerts and informative notifications. During Hurricane Harvey’s unwelcome visit, CAPT Mike Cunningham participated on the Port Coordination Team (PCT) conference calls, representing several private dry bulk and break bulk terminals in the Upper Ship Channel. PCT updates were forwarded via email to Port Bureau members. This process continued for a 24-day period while recovery operations were completed up and down the waterways. CAPT Cunningham also participated in a phone interview with the Freight Business Journal North America on the Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Christine Schlenker produced a quick turnaround for the staff of the admiral in charge of NOAA regarding the value of the Port of Houston as it related to Hurricane Harvey closures.
What’s Ahead in 2018?
Like the region it serves, the Greater Houston Port Bureau enters a new chapter for expansion in 2018. We are introducing a new, more contemporary three-tiered membership structure, offering interested members greater opportunities for involvement in the maritime community while supporting enhancements to member services.
Our committees are setting their goals to continue leading improvements in the Houston port region:
- The Advocacy Advisory Board will complete its Export Investment Survey and report on its findings at the end of the first quarter. It will also work with stakeholders to provide consistent facts and information to the community about the benefits of using the Houston Ship Channel.
- The Dredging Committee is preparing for the annual Economic Alliance policy trip, which CAPT Diehl attends as the maritime and dredging expert. The Committee’s developing informational resources for port users, including a repository of dredging assets in the region and successful case studies project.
- The Traffic Efficiency Committee will host a lean process workshop to facilitate cross-company efficiencies. Additionally, cost models for chemical tanker transits are being developed that will enable the committee to work with stakeholders to develop an efficiency process and funding sources for implementation.
- Date December 15, 2017
- Tags Dec 2017-Jan 2018