Thousands of people have been forced from their homes by the storm © PA Images
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes by the storm © PA Images

Hurricane Harvey closes key US port

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
29 August 2017

The Port of Houston – the second busiest in the US ­– remains closed after Hurricane Harvey tore through the Gulf coast.

Cargo ships and tankers are queuing in the Gulf of Mexico after the port was shut on Friday in anticipation of the hurricane.

At least 10 people have died and many more are injured after 130mph winds hit the Gulf coast of the US on Friday evening. More than 30ins of rain have fallen and some areas are predicted to see above 50ins of rain by the time the storm subsides.

The Port of Houston carries more foreign cargo than any other in the US and is second busiest, to the Port of South Louisiana, in terms of overall tonnage, carrying 8.5% of all US cargo.

Roger Guenther, executive director at the Port of Houston, told CNBC they had evacuated 80 vessels from the port on Thursday and closed it on Friday.

“It will create somewhat of a backlog but we will work diligently to get all the ships that need to come to the port and get this place going as soon as possible,” he said.

The port provides 65% of petrochemical products to the US, making it the largest petrochemical port in the country. Moody’s Analytics told the Wall Street Journal 2m barrels a day of refining capacity, about 10% of the nation’s overall capacity, was offline.

The port’s website said: “We will be continuing to monitor the developing weather conditions to determine whether operations can safely resume on Wednesday. Updates will be provided as more information is available.”

Noël Perry, chief economist with Truckstop.com, told the Wall Street Journal the storm could affect 10% of US trucking capacity and shipping costs could rise by 5%-22%.

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