Advocate editorial board opinion: Port of Victoria could further enhance shipping

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 15, 2012 at 9 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2012 at 8:15 p.m.

The Port of Victoria experiencing increased traffic because of the Eagle Ford Shale is logical. And that means good economic news for Victoria County.

According to Robert Loeb, Victoria County Navigation District chairman, 58,000 tons of frack sand came into the port by barge and rail and was shipped out by truck during the last half of 2011. The port also shipped out 3.8 million barrels of oil - 3.3 million by barge and about 500,000 by rail.

So barge traffic has increased and is likely to continue increasing because of the Eagle Ford Shale.

This kind of activity at the port is economically beneficial, and Loeb said he'd like to see the port grow to accommodate shipping, as well. Now the port collects revenues on leased land, wharfage fees, including docking fees and fee per barrel of oil or sand or whatever is shipped out.

So we agree. We believe the port is an integral part to Victoria and the area's economic well-being.

A great way to enhance shipping at the Port of Victoria is to add a container dock and an area where numerous barges can be parked; the port has 1,800 acres near Invista for such a container dock - a dock area where containers could be taken off a barge and put ashore to be moved to its destination, according to Loeb.

Currently, for example, containers are unloaded at Houston and trucked to petrochemical plants here or Caterpillar Inc. A container dock could save significant shipping costs for industry while reducing truck traffic and increasing barge traffic.

But those companies that would benefit from a container dock - Caterpillar Inc., Invista, Dow and other petrochemical plants - would have to participate in making it a reality. Loeb estimated the projects at the Port of Victoria would cost more than $5 million.

"We've still got to put that together," Loeb said "It's going to take our business partners to make it happen."

Also conceived is a fleeting area, according to Loeb. Barges could park en masse and be ready to take on containers of sand, oil or whatever that is destined for East Texas or Louisiana.

"This would have to be dredged out to make a huge parking lot (for barges)," Loeb said. "This will have to be a public-private partnership."

All in all, these ideas to enhance the Port of Victoria while saving area petrochemical plants and Caterpillar shipping costs are great and could open up more opportunities for business.

Loeb plans on giving his presentation on the Port of Victoria to the Partnership Group at 700 Main St. on Tuesday. The presentation includes a history (about 5 minutes), a video (about 5 minutes) and what is going on at the port (about 9 minutes).

We encourage all to attend this meeting and learn about our port's beneficial features - current and planned.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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