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Cargo Shipping Houston, Delayed

Posted on Wed, Oct 06, 2010

Delano, Jack,, 1914-, photographer.  Pennsylvania R.R. [Railroad] ore docks, unloading iron ore from a lake freighter by means of "Hulett" unloaders, Cleveland, Ohio  1943 May   1 transparency : color.  <b>Notes: </b>...

 Pack n send is posting this article from the Houston Chronicle.  This is the most current update on the closure of the Houston ship channel.  While it was anticipated that the ship channel would be open this morning, it looks like there is a slight delay.

 Ship Channel closure could be lifted today


Problems clearing electrical tower delayed plans to reopen sooner

 After encountering unexpected difficulties Tuesday in clearing a damaged electrical tower from the Houston Ship Channel, workers hope today to end a three-day bottleneck at the Port of Houston.

At least 70 ships, including 33 oil tankers, were waiting Tuesday to leave or dock at the port. The U.S. Coast Guard cut off access to about three-fourths of the 150 terminals Sunday after a tug pushing three barges crashed into the 300-foot-tall electrical tower.

An average of two dozen vessels move through the port daily, generating about $322 million in economic activity.

Houston-area refiners receive crude oil shipments through the channel and have said that so far they've been able to continue operations using oil already on hand.

"Certainly having the Ship Channel open will improve conditions for everyone and we're eager to see the channel opened as quickly as possible," said David Harpole, a spokesman for LyondellBasell.

Valero had not expected a crude shipment before today, and a spokesman said its operations were not affected.

Unexpected delays

The Coast Guard and CenterPoint Energy, which owns the tower, had hoped to reopen the channel Tuesday night, but faced delays in cutting down some of the 14 cables — including 12 high-voltage wires — from the damaged structure, which was leaning precariously on one of the barges involved in the collision

An investigation continues into the cause of Sunday's accident.

Tuesday afternoon, a crew of 40 using four barges, two cranes and three tugboats was removing a cable from the tower when the cable hung up on other equipment, one of several unexpected delays, said Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Coast Guard's sector commander in the Houston-Galveston area.

"That's going to take a little while to untangle," he said. "It's not a showstopper, it'll get untangled, but it's just one of those unforeseen things."

No electricity was flowing through the lines.

After removing the cables, CenterPoint was expected to begin an operation to sever the steel tower from its crumpled base in the waterway, Woodring said.

"We have a shearing tool — like a hydraulic cutter — that hopefully will cut through the legs very easily and then we'll be able to lay the tower down on a barge," he said.

"We have a shearing tool — like a hydraulic cutter — that hopefully will cut through the legs very easily and then we'll be able to lay the tower down on a barge," he said.

Some optimism

Meantime, shipping companies awaited word on when they can resume transiting the channel.

"Every day that goes on, it gets more and more serious and there are more backups," said Niels Aalund, vice president of the West Gulf Maritime Association, which represents 183 shipping industry firms. Still, he said, "there's optimism that this can get opened up quickly."

Buffalo Marine Service, a Houston bunkering company, continues to work in terminals that remain open in Galveston and Texas City. But its business in the closed area of the channel has come to a halt.

"If there aren't any ships coming in that need fuel, we don't have much work to do," said company Vice President Chuck King.

For information about Houston shipping, crating and freighting, please contact pack n send at 713 266 1450.

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