The Port of Houston Authority posted its slowest start in operating revenues since 1999 during the first three months of 2002. Operating revenues through March 31, 2002, decreased slightly to $25.3 million from $25.5 million in the same period in 2001. Operating income for the year was $4.1 million compared to $5.1 million in the first three months of 2001.
Compared with the first three months of 2001, steel imports dropped 10 percent in reaction to new steel import restrictions imposed in March.
"The decrease in import steel has had a negative effect on Port revenues," said Port Authority Chairman James T. Edmonds. "However, business trends for the Port continue to be strong with growth in container cargo, grain shipments and bulk handling materials."
Steel imports have been affected by new trade regulations, including U.S. tariff increases of up to 30 percent imposed on a range of steel imports. As a result, steel imports at the Port of Houston fell 82 percent in March from the prior month and were off 10 percent for the three-month period. Automobile imports totaled 15,957 units for the three-month period compared with 17,967 units the corresponding period in 2001, a decrease of 11 percent.
The Port's total container volume in the first quarter of 2002 increased 5 percent to 273,256 TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units) from 259,423 TEUs in the year-ago period. Overall container shipping
grew to nearly 2.5 million tons, an approximately 5.5 percent increase over the same period of 2001.
In the first three months, bulk grain shipments increased 54 percent on movement of approximately 653,000 tons through the Port of Houston Authority's facilities, compared to approximately 424,000 tons
during the same period in 2001. In addition, tonnage at the Bulk Materials Handling Plant
increased 39 percent to 1.1 million tons, compared with approximately 780,000 tons handled in first quarter 2001. Exported bagged cargoes totaled 77,999 tons for the first three months of 2002 compared to 75,365 tons for 2001, an increase of 3 percent. Barbours Cut Terminal handled 2.2 million tons in the first quarter, an increase of 6 percent from the 2.1 million tons handled in the first quarter of 2001.