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GP/JC COMMUNITY-INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP: Panama Canal talk by Bill Diehl

CAPT. BILL DIEHL, USCG (RET) and President of the Port Bureau
CAPT. BILL DIEHL, USCG (RET) and President of the Port Bureau

GALENA PARK – Participants in the CIP heard industry reports of safety and emissions last month, but they also heard two interesting talks by industry leaders.

Derrick Bockius, plant manager of the new Kinder-Morgan facility in Galena Park reported that the plant was now on line, and producing about 50,000 gallons/day. This is Unit 1, and Unit 2 will go on line later this year, he said. The distillate product is being sent to local Galena Park companies, and to barges for export. Bockius said that the city of Galena Park should realize about $4 million yearly from this new plant.

Capt. Bill Diehl, president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau, made a detailed slide presentation on the status of the new Panama Canal work, and explained how it would affect commerce in the Houston Port area.

The new canal is 50 miles long, he said, and has 3 locks at each end to raise or lower ships. Capacity will be 14,000 vessels per year, compared with current activity of 4000 per year in Los Angeles, and 8000 in Houston.

The new canal will be able to accommodate wider ships, now 13 containers wide but they will be 22 containers wide in the future. They are known as “PanaMax” Ships. Another way to gauge their size: current ships hold 4400 TEU (Tonnage Equivalent Units) and future ships will carry 12,000-14,000 TEU.

Diehl said East Harris county will need more highways and rail lines to accommodate the increase in ship cargo traffic when the canal opens, but they will not go through Galena Park.