, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

December 28, 2012

Port open for business, expansion

PORT ARTHUR — The Port of Port Arthur reached a milestone this year — a 25-year contract with a company to export wooden pellets to Europe, said Floyd Gaspard, executive port director.

The company, German Pellets, is the largest manufacturer of wooden pellets in Europe and recently started construction on a pellet production facility in Woodville, which is about 75 miles north of the port. The company is also constructing a storage facility with a loading system at the port, according to a press release.

German Pellets would build five pellet silos at the port with a combined capacity of 82,500 tons and a loading system that could accommodate ships capable of carrying up to 77,000 tons of wood pellets, according to the press release. The first load would be shipped in spring 2013.

Wooden pellets from the Woodville plant would be shipped to a British power station that has been converted to use pellets from coal, according to the press release. From Woodville, the pellets would be transported to Port Arthur via rail or a company-owned truck fleet.

The Port of Port Arthur concentrated its effort this past year on securing a variety of cargo — the kind of cargo that would diversify the port’s operations and maintain its volume of business, Gaspard said.

“Cargo opportunities change constantly,” he said. “We have managed to stay on top of the worldwide markets.”

The port has been courting South American customers in anticipation of the ever-changing nature of the shipping industry as well as in an effort not to rely on the European market, Gaspard said. Currently, the port’s largest partner is Brazil, which exports wood pulp.

But the port would watch as the world market changes in the next year, keeping an eye out for break-bulk cargo opportunities for which the noncontainerized port is suited.

“We want to maintain the same levels of cargo we have with our existing partners while pursuing diversified cargo,” Gaspard said.

The executive port director said the port should see the culmination of its efforts on two different types of cargo by the end of 2013.

There have been other efforts on which the port has focused over the course of the year. The port was one of six local taxing entities that got together to create a tax increment reinvestment zone in downtown Port Arthur — a measure that would likely spur development along Procter Street and beyond.

While the Port Arthur City Council passed an ordinance at its Nov. 9 meeting, approving the TIRZ designation, the council needed the support of various taxing entities like the port.

The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, Jefferson County, the Sabine-Neches Navigation District, Drainage District 7 and the Port of Port Arthur joined the city as part of the zone.

The zone is approximately 372 acres and encompasses the land bordered by Houston Avenue on the west, Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard/7th Street on the north, Lake Charles Avenue on the east and the ship channel on the south.

The way the zone works is by freezing the current 2012 tax rates within the zone, and any increase in property value throughout the zone would result in higher property taxes. The property taxes collected as a result of the increase in value would be funneled into the tax increment reinvestment fund. The zone would not exceed a 25-year obligation, according to the city ordinance.


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