It's OK If We Don't Dredge
If you’re not in Virginia, New York/New Jersey, or Miami, your port will not be able to handle Post-Panamax ships. But don’t fret, says Vickerman & Associates prez John Vickerman (here with Houston local Dow Golub Remels & Beverly partner Debra Gilbreath and Rockefeller Group FTZ Services EVP Brandi Hanback at the CREW Network convention in Miami Beach this week where we're on the ground). He believes the real boom from the Panama Canal expansion may be from trans-shipment trade—what happens after cargo is moved from the huge boats to smaller ones, and after it’s offloaded. John says containers typically sit in port yards for six to eight days. The ports that handle the intermodal aspect and distribute those throughout the US the fastest may be the real winners.
John, a retired naval captain of the civil engineer corps, says he believes Houston will never get deeper than 45’ until the Army Corps of Engineers changes its cost/benefit ratio standards. But we could look into opening facililties in deeper waters around Galveston. And Texas will be a huge beneficiary of the Panama Canal expansion no matter what—it's moving the zero cost line (which determines whether it's cheaper to ship through Panama Canal or the Suez) west to include Texas and Chicago. Plus, liquids will now be big parts of Panama Canal trade—we could see 42% of crude oil shipping (up from 0%) and 92% of LNG (up from 10%) go through there.