Luring Post-Panamax Trade Won’t Come Easy For Houston

Houston is banking on an increase in port traffic, once the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015. Houston will face stiff competition.

The Port of Houston is undergoing a major expansion to accommodate “post-Panamax” ships — vessels so large they can’t fit through the Panama Canal. The hope is the canal’s expansion will allow Houston to pick up cargo traffic between the Far East and the Midwest. Up to now, such trade could only go through West Coast ports.

But Houston isn’t the only port city harboring such dreams. Karen Hooper is a Latin America analyst with private intelligence firm Stratfor.

“We’re talking about ports like Savannah, Mobile — also ports in Mexico, Lázaro Cárdenas. They are building railways that ship directly to the United States, and we’re starting to see an increase of shipping into Mexico, and then transshipment across Mexico and into the United States.”

The largest post-Panamax ships require ports with depths of at least 50 feet. Dredging that deep in the Gulf of Mexico is cost prohibitive. Even after the dredging of its Barbours Cut Channel, the Port of Houston will have a maximum depth of 45 feet.


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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