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Greater Houston Port Bureau
The following is the January, 2000 edition of "The Bulletin". Any questions or comments regarding content should be addressed to Alistair Macnab at 713-678-4300.
 The Editorial
Its customary to look back over the year that has just passed, especially if there's a millennium change involved, but this month, I'm looking firmly ahead as we contemplate the new century and what's in store for ships, seafarers, and international commerce.
I'm thinking of jobs. What will we all be doing in ten, twenty, thirty years' time? For some of us, we hope it will be a restful retirement in the company of our life partner, but for the young ones, what's the best way to structure a career around ships, cargo and ports? Where are we going?
Well, I think its safe to say that ocean transportation will still be around. Its an efficient way of moving goods and becoming even more so. The ongoing international movement of goods also seems to be a sure bet as we all continue to produce and consume, so bringing ships and cargo together means that seaports will still be needed.
And, presumably, warm bodies to keep things going.
But careers are not made out of "warm body" jobs but by thinkers, do-ers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs. There's not much advantage in being a mere cipher in an "old" industry if there are still hills to climb and rivers to cross.
Here's an interesting scenario.
The future transportation entity will be created around and managed by a "trade route" team. In principal trade routes, there will be more than one management organization but each will buy-in ships, crews, berths, agencies, and landside transportation systems on a renewing contractual basis.
Each trade route management entity, in turn, will be contracted to merchants as logistics providers, and merchants will be equity partners in and proprietary cargo providers for the trade route management team, which will have no tangible assets other than managerial talent.
All bought-in services will be purchased by the trade route management team on a competitive basis and will be subject to renegotiation from time to time. This will ensure competitive efficiency.
All freight, whether container, breakbulk, ro-ro, drybulk, liquid bulk, or whatever, will be managed from source to destination as a true logistics exercise using the appropriate transportation modes and calling on the contracted expertise for its execution - all under the direct management of the trade route management team.
There will be no "companies" doing business under their own name. All business will be conducted under the banner of the trade route management organization. Organized fiscal entities, however, will still exist as each seeks to become a contracted service provider to a trade route management team.
Individuals working within this system will be self-employed and allied to a specific service provider, or to the trade route management organization directly, on a contractual basis. Jobs will shift in line with the changing fortunes of each entity.
So what does all this mean to the individual? First: Get a good education. Second: Plan your own pension and medical benefits. Third: Be prepared to travel. Fourth: Be a good team player. Fifth: Be prepared to be ruthless.
As an ocean transportation intermediary or service provider, I'd be looking to ally my company with the best trade route management team I could find. If I wanted to belong to more than one, I'd divide up my company into discrete units. I'd also learn to be a good team player and to be ruthless.
Are you ready for the Twenty-first Century in Shipping? I hope you are.
Alistair Macnab
 The Africa Initiative
After years of mixed fortunes in sub-Saharan Africa culminating in 1998 when only 6.57% of Houston's imports and 5.0% of Houston's exports were with that region, there are signs that growth can now be anticipated.
James A. Harmon, chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank recently stated: "Africa's time has come. We're forecasting a 4.2% annual growth rate for sub-Saharan Africa during the next twenty years. Government subsidies and barriers to trade are being reduced."
Such encouraging words must come as welcome relief to businesses traditionally trading with the region as liner and tramp cargoes loaded in Houston during 1998 only amounted to 1,246,568 short tons or 3.9% of the port's overall business. Liner and tramp imports from sub-Saharan Africa were equally dismal during 1998, totaling only 297,433 short tons - a mere 0.39% of Houston's overall import business during the same year.
While new government-to-government programs and initiatives are welcome signs that Africa is again becoming recognized as a growing and significant trading partner, the Port Bureau's current Africa Initiative is designed to assist port authorities in African countries to identify and encourage small and medium merchants who are often overlooked in the development and implementation of official plans.
The Bureau's Marketing Upgrade and Training Program has been designed in conjunction with Texas Southern University's (TSU's) School of Technology with emphasis on its relevance to port authorities. It places strong emphasis on the conjunction of effective field office activity, meaningful interface with merchants and carriers, and an intensive training program to enhance and re-direct existing marketing strategies.
With an overall commitment to the transfer of real skills to regional port authority managers and employees, the Bureau and TSU deliver an interactive database system and unique strategy plan supported by a training program specifically designed to educate and empower the user. With the working program and training materials in place, port-marketing operatives' skills are enhanced in such areas as sales, logistics, world trade, and computer programming. Business profile templates for the development of marketing intelligence and the delivery of specific value/service propositions are specifically designed to capture the small and medium trader and businessman.
For more details, contact Michel Benoit at the Bureau on 713.678.4300
 The Texas Gulf International Shippers' Council
Flowing on from last year's establishment of the Texas Gulf International Shippers' Council which was initiated by the Greater Houston Port Bureau in January 1999, the Port of Houston Authority (PHA) has joined with the Bureau from January 1st. 2000 in the development of a public-private agency specifically to identify and target breakbulk commodities that can more effectively reach their markets by using the Port of Houston.
Commodities which will be studied include coffee, tea and cocoabeans; natural rubber; steel; cement and building materials; reefer cargoes; vehicles; and forest products.
Houston's location as the hub for landside transportation with the Houston/Dallas/San Antonio marketplace - the third greatest economic region in the United States after New York/New Jersey and Southern California - would seem to offer a logical choice as a port of entry to shippers and consignees, but this is not always the case. Cargo routing may be subject to traditional distribution patterns and carrier convenience outwith the Merchant's control.
The Shippers' Council works with shippers, consignees, traders, and transportation service providers to identify and analyze the most cost effective routing for their product. As a neutral, asset-free, third party, the Council exists to research competitive routing possibilities and to offer choices to clients who are then free to make their own decisions. In many cases, the public facilities of the PHA and the private sector services of the Port's tenants and customers can be shown to offer fresh insights into cargo routing possibilities that can be competitive with regard to cost and time.
The Port of Houston was host to over 2000 breakbulk vessel calls during 1999 and the breakbulk dock facilities along the entire length of the Ship Channel provide an unparalleled choice of terminal services. All-water connections were made with 261 overseas ports and 49 steamship companies offered regularly scheduled departures and arrivals.
Routing cargo via the Port of Houston is always an option and the Texas Gulf International Shippers' Council exists to provide shippers, and those who have the responsibility of routing cargo, with the opportunity to compare and contrast alternative transportation arrangements on land and sea.
The Council works on a fee-for-services basis with a reduced tariff for Port Bureau and Marine Exchange members. For more details, you will want to speak with Alistair Macnab on 713.678.4300
 Customs Brokers and Forwarders Seek to Advance Hyde's Judiciary Committee Bill
The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) are seeking relief from unfair discrimination and an end to antitrust immunity for ocean carriers and are asking for the support of the Houston Customhouse Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association (HCBFFA).
In a recent letter, Peter H. Powell, Sr., President of the NCBFAA, has drawn attention to the change that has taken place in U.S. ocean shipping since the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 (OSRA) was enacted. Antitrust immunity was kept in place by OSRA, ostensibly to assist U.S. ocean carriers to compete in a global marketplace dominated by foreign-based cartels. With American President Lines, Crowley, Lykes Lines, and SeaLand Services having recently passed into overseas hands, the NCBFFA is now planning to support HR3138, introduced by Representative Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which would revoke antitrust immunity in the shipping industry and restore marketplace economics.
According to Powell, OSRA has been in effect long enough to ascertain that small shippers and intermediaries are disadvantaged while many large shippers are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Act. OSRA's final form was not an arrangement agreed to by many small shippers and ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs as they became) and now with the loss of American carriers to foreign buyers, the continuation of antitrust immunity, in contradistinction to mainstream U.S. law, is seen as harmful to shippers and consumers because costs of ocean transportation can be set collusively, without the downward pressure of market forces.
The HCBFFA is presently evaluating this developing situation through discussions with members and other interested parties. There have been reports of serious disputes developing between small business owners/forwarders and large foreign national carriers and there is general agreement that OSRA is seen as a flawed piece of legislation.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the Canadian Shippers Council wants Ottawa to abolish the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act to put pressure on shipping lines to keep freight rates and services reasonable. Similar moves have also been started in Australia.
The HCBFFA can be reached through the association's Coordinator, Jeannie Angeli on 713.678.4300
 Air Quality Emission Reductions Seen Difficult to Attain by 2007
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) approved a list of measures in December 1999, which will fill the remaining gap in air quality emission reductions required for the City of Houston and surrounding counties to reach attainment by 2007.
Cranes and other port related equipment are considered to be "construction equipment" by the TNRCC and proposed limits in their use, only from noon to midnight, are already being called for.
Other measures under review are:

The virtual replacement of all engines in port equipment by 2007;
The use of diesel emulsions;
Use of low emission fuels for commercial marine vessels;
Specific spark ignition standards for equipment;
Rebuild and preventative maintenance programs for equipment;
Regulation of tug activity;
Only diesel-powered tugs;
Combustion controls on equipment;
Restriction of start-up and shut-down of commercial vehicles;
Improved bunker fuels

This list is out for comment until February 1st. 2000 at 5.00 PM. The public hearing will be held on January 31st. at 7.00 PM.
For more details, call Laura Fiffick at the Port of Houston Authority on 713.670.2438. The TNRCC will begin promulgating rules in a bid to bring about the necessary air quality improvement starting in November 2000.
 Marine Exchange of the West Gulf, Inc. - 1999 Statistics
Predictably, port traffic for Houston and Brownsville was down for the twelve months of 1999 owing to some extent, to the reduction in steel imports. Somewhat less predictably, however, were reductions in vessel arrivals also at the ports of Corpus Christi and Freeport.
The bright stars of the Texas Gulf Coast have been the ports of Galveston and Texas City during 1999 with over 2% growth. Chemical Tankers were the vessel type showing the best performance with a 7.4% increase over the previous year.
On the ship agency front, 21 firms handled over one hundred ships per annum out of the 114 active agency houses in Houston.
The Marine Exchange Annual Report for 1999 is now available to members. For details and to subscribe, call Alton Landry on 713.678.7711
 Bureau/Exchange Millennium Directory at Printing Stage
The Millennium Directory, which will record the particulars of members of the Greater Houston Port Bureau, The Houston Customhouse Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, the Marine Exchange of the West Gulf, and the U.S. Gulf International Commerce Club, is now in the final printing process and should be available for distribution during the first part of January 2000.
The project is being completed in-house and has proved to be quite a time consuming task but we are optimistic that the final product will be not only useful but also handy to use as well as good looking.
It might be appropriate to apologize in advance should there be any omissions or errors in the over 400 entries. This will certainly be a good time to thank all those who have helped Michele, John, Cynthia, and Jan as they have gone through the checking and double-checking process. This first edition of what is hoped to be an annual publication, should probably be viewed as a work-in-progress as we had hoped for more corporate messages than were eventually received. Perhaps those members who missed out this time will be encouraged to provide more data for 2001?
One free copy of the Directory will be available to every entrant. Additional copies will cost $16.24 ($15.00 + $1.24 Tax). As this is a revenue development program of the Bureau/Exchange, your kind support will be greatly appreciated.
 Butterworth Global Marine Services Establish Americas Base in Houston
Captain Timothy Leitzell, formerly President of ABS Marine Services, is pleased to announce the establishment of Butterworth Global Marine Services in Houston, TX with additional offices in London and Singapore. This worldwide network of consultants, engineers, and surveyors form each office to serve every facet of the ever-changing marine industry.
For seventy-five years, Butterworth Systems, Inc., the originator of the first tank-cleaning machine, has been a leader in marine technology and services for the worldwide marine industry. The development of Butterworth Global Marine Services with Captain Leitzell as President, will offer routine or complex ship/vessel, consulting, shipyard, training, and fuels management services backed by professional experience utilizing the latest technology.
For more information, contact Captain Leitzell on 281.821.7300 or by fax on 281.821.1216.
 Port of Houston Authority: Rate Increases from January 1st 2000
At the December 20th 1999 public meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Houston Authority, several rate changes were approved.
Tariff No.8 which deals with the Turning Basin will see Wharfage increased by 2.22%; Dockage increased by 3.0%; and container crane hire by 5.0%.
At Barbours Cut, which is covered by Tariff No.14, the increases were 4.17% on Wharfage; 5.0% on Dockage; and 5.0% on container crane hire.
For full details of current rates, you may access the official Port of Houston Authority Rates Tariffs on ;


 The Houston Chemical Tankers and Bulk Liquids Terminals Group
One of the Port of Houston traffic sectors showing exciting growth during 1999 has been the 7.4% increase in the number of calls by Chemical Tankers during the year to reach a total of 1247 arrivals.
In keeping with the desire of all port users to promote Ship Channel traffic safety and to ensure an awareness of and commitment to environmental issues, representatives of the owners and operators of chemical tankers and the terminals at which they berth, have come together as a discussion group to address these and other issues concerning the specific transportation of bulk chemicals in the Ports of Houston and Texas City.
The Port Bureau, as the Secretariat for the Group, is pleased to announce that the Port of Houston Authority has recognized the Group's mission and has become a participant and supporter from January 1st 2000. This welcome development is seen as an opportunity for the chemical tanker sector to have its unique issues recognized by the Port Authority as the local sponsor of the Houston Ship Channel with responsibility for fire protection; participant in Channel Industries' Mutual Aid (CIMA); and leader in environmental protection and enhancement.
The Houston Chemical Tankers and Bulk Liquids Terminals Group also looks forward to establishing a closer working relationship with the Captain of the Port, U.S. Coast Guard, and with the Houston and Texas City Pilots.
Meetings are to be held every second month. The next meting will be convened at the offices of the Port Bureau in February. For more information, call Alistair Macnab on 713.678.4300
 Intermodal Trucking Productivity and Environmental Protection and Enhancement
One of the main aspects of citizens' discomfort with the recent Port Authority bond election has been the prospect of more heavy truck traffic on our region's highways brought about by the inevitable expansion of commerce through existing and proposed Port facilities.
It is, however, a matter of record that a little more than 50% of today's international container traffic originates in or is destined for a Harris County location which makes railroads irrelevant truck delivery the only effective mode of transportation.
The Port of Houston Authority is already doing something about this problem and has now commissioned the Greater Houston Port Bureau to liaise with the Texas Intermodal Truckers Association (TITA) to formulate an information network to match truckers with available loads so as to ensure efficient loaded journeys in both directions to and from container terminals. The idea is to reduce and minimize unproductive, empty runs of tractors and the corresponding emissions that this class of non-revenue traffic has generated.
Other areas of improvement on the landside of container terminals might be the establishment of specific truck routing for the principal traffic directions, and the improved design of terminal gates to expedite truck reception and reduce engine idling.
It could be said that this is the year when plans and programs will have to be drawn up to address federal and state air quality standards. Traffic to and from container terminals, while only one aspect of the problem, is, nevertheless, regarded as highly significant and visible to the traveling public.
The Port of Houston Authority, the Greater Houston Port Bureau, and the Texas Intermodal Truckers Association are embarked on a program to address the problem and to seek solutions wherever they may be found.
A January meeting is scheduled to identify areas of research and to develop short-, medium-, and long-term plans of action.

  1. Port of Houston Authority:
    Laura Fiffick, Environmental Affairs Manager
  2. Greater Houston Port Bureau:
    Alistair Macnab, Executive Vice President
  3. Hal Miller:
    Texas Intermodal Truckers Association
 The Houston Center for Maritime Education
In continuation of the successful program initiated in 1999, the Houston Center for Marine Education is pleased to introduce three new training modules in its International Shipping Executives' Education Series.
These are:
International Commerce on January 19th. 2000;

Warehouse and Terminal Management on February 23rd. 2000;

The Ocean Freight Forwarder on April 26th. 2000.

In addition, the following popular modules will be repeated:
Insurance, Claims and Recoveries, and General Average on February 2nd. 2000;

Logistics Management on March 8th. 2000;

The Charter Market, Charter Parties, Bills of Lading and other forms of Contracts of Afreightment on April 5th. 2000.

Each one-day module costs $95.00 and includes a light lunch. Class sizes are strictly limited and must be prepaid. Fees are transferable to other modules or to other named individuals but are forfeited after three no-shows.
The entire course has been developed by the Houston Center for Marine Education with financial assistance from the Port of Houston Authority to provide local learning opportunities for persons already involved with the many aspects of international commerce, port trades, and market development.
Prospective individual, and corporately sponsored students should contact Cynthia at the Port Bureau on 713.678.4300 for more information and to confirm reservations.
 The Pre-Professional Vocational Training Program for High School Students
Discussions are currently taking place with representatives of the Houston Independent School District - West, to develop a vocational high school program for students who might be interested in entering the many fields of international commerce after graduation. The program is expected to be in place and on offer at the commencement of school year 2000-2001.
With special emphasis on office procedures, computer literacy, geography, bookkeeping and accounting, and a specially designed module dealing with all aspects of international commerce, the program is expected to appeal to students who see their future as a combination of community college and on-the-job training as participants in Houston's growing importance in world-wide commerce, said to already represent every one in three jobs in our community.
Corporate assistance in the form of entry-level requirements and preferences, and sponsorship of internships are solicited. It is recognized that business involvement will be necessary from the commencement of the program if students are to receive the sort of instruction that will prepare them for an eventual career in international commerce and the cluster of trades, businesses, and professions that support it.
In an age when some school districts are criticized for graduating students with incomplete marketable skills, the Houston Independent School District is to be commended for its interest in working directly with industry to design a program that will be of value to student and prospective employer, alike.
Further details of this Port Bureau initiative which is generously supported by a matching grant from the Port of Houston Authority, are obtainable from Alistair Macnab on 713.678.4300.
 Training Programs
The Bureau is in the business of encouraging training and recognizes that there are several very good opportunities for members and readers of "The Bulletin" to update or acquire skills from sources other than the Bureau's "Houston Center for Maritime Education".
Educational Resources International, Inc., has three good programs during February. These are:
February 1st. 2000
Fundamentals of Exporting.
February 2nd. 2000:
The Letter of Credit Workshop.
February 3rd. 2000
Hazardous Materials Training.
For more details call Bob Prior on 281.376.4475 or you can reach him by Fax on the same number by waiting for the "beep".
University of Houston/Small Business Administration conducts a two-evening seminar every quarter entitled: "A Basic Guide to Exporting". The next dates for this program are:
February 15th. and 17th.2000


April 11th. and 13th. 2000

For more details, please call Etna Pellman on 713.752.8482 or Captain Macnab on 713.678.4300.
 Seamen's Church Institute to Open Training Facility in Houston
The Seamen's Church Institute (SCI) of New York and New Jersey is very pleased to announce plans to establish a training center adjacent to the Port of Houston Authority's administrative building at the Turning Basin Docks.
The $5.5 million project represents a strategic linkage between SCI and the Port of Houston Authority, which will construct and own the building housing the center. The facility will feature four simulation-based bridges/wheelhouses that will offer full visual imaging. Roll-in steering stations will accommodate piloting and deep-sea requirements as the center evolves into a fully flexible venue for all mariners.
Training commitments have already been made by eight of the leading maritime companies in the region, including Kirby Marine Transport, SeaRiver Maritime, Cenac Towing, Coastal Towing, Buffalo Marine, Martin Gas Marine, Canal Barge, and American Commercial Lines.
The center is expected to become operational and take its first safety classes during the 4th. Quarter of 2000.
 Texas Gulf Ports Lead 1998 Port Rankings
Texas Gulf Ports continue to play a significant part in the nation's commerce with our ports taking no fewer than three spots in the top ten, six places in the top 25, and nine positions out of the top one hundred USA ports to do international and domestic business in 1998. The rankings are based on total short tons.
The listings are:
International & Domestic Tonnage:
No.2 Houston 169,070,334
No.5 Corpus Christi 86,179,780
No.9 Beaumont 60,051,844
No.14 Texas City 49,477,401
No.23 Port Arthur 29,557,282
No.24 Freeport 29,013,797
No.53 Galveston 11,049,013
No.63 Matagorda 8,040,410
No.78 Victoria 5,297,710
No.106 Brownsville 2,798,665
No.146 Sabine Pass 1,200,000
Altogether, Texas ports represent 18.23% of the total tonnage of USA waterborne commerce during 1998.
With respect to international trade, as opposed to domestic shipments, the rankings for 1998 place Houston in the Number One spot:
International Tonnage:
No.1 Houston 108,549,772
No.4 Corpus Christi 60,230,570
No.6 Beaumont 43,413,721
No.12 Texas City 31,372,000
No.15 Freeport 23,962,575
No.17 Port Arthur 22,652,922
Texas was represented by six ports in the top ranking twenty for a total tonnage of 290,000,000 short tons, or 36.39% of the total tonnage handled by the top twenty USA ports involved with international commerce.
These numbers and rankings have been obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center in New Orleans LA.
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