Houston Ship Channel reopens to limited barge traffic after oil spill

The Houston Ship Channel has reopened to barge traffic only, three days after a barge collision dumped as many as 170K gallons of heavy oil into the water near Galveston; the barges are only able to move up and down the Channel, but not yet allowed to enter or leave.

Most U.S. capacity to export natural gas liquids is on the Channel, energy consultant EnVantage says; two companies, Enterprise Products Partners (EPD +0.6%) and Targa Resources Partners (NGLS +0.5%), have channel operations that combine to represent 380K bbl/day of export capacity.

The spill illustrates why the U.S. NGL industry needs to spread export capacity to other areas, says the general manager of midstream operations at Phillips 66 (PSX +1.5%), which is investing in an NGL export terminal in Freeport, ~30 miles from where the Channel opens to the Gulf of Mexico.

It isn't the first spill for Kirby (KEX +0.1%), the tank barge operator involved in the collision, according to a report.

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Comments (6)
  • deercreekvols
    , contributor
    Comments (9746) | Send Message
    The spill of several barrels into Lake Michigan by (BP) will get more attention than this.
    25 Mar 2014, 02:30 PM Reply Like
  • starcorral
    , contributor
    Comments (1743) | Send Message
    My wife and I moved to the Tula, OK area 29 years ago. We were gifted an RCI resort 1 week stay in Conroe Texas and have reservations for late April. We purchased an access pass which will allow us to attend shows and special sites during the week, but anticipation of the Galveston shores was really great until some dumb ass spilled oil.


    It has not been too long ago that a tug pilot lost his barge which caused the Interstae 40 bridge over the KM waterway to loses a huge section of roadway killing 14 and severing one of the most important east west links iun the USA.


    I wonder why regulation allows one guy to do so much damage because he can't manage himself.
    25 Mar 2014, 03:48 PM Reply Like
  • toomuchgas
    , contributor
    Comments (1035) | Send Message
    As the U.S. keeps producing more and more oil and gas the chances of accidents increase. Building the Keystone Pipeline would help reduce barge and rail accidents.
    25 Mar 2014, 07:21 PM Reply Like
  • surfgeezer
    , contributor
    Comments (10390) | Send Message
    Um, no. The Keystone is going ahead now in America. That oil is already driving much of the increased traffic, along with the newly reversed Seaway from EEP,EPD.
    In fact when the Keystone gets built to Canada, we will have MORE barge traffic from the MORE oil coming to the Gulf.
    27 Mar 2014, 04:04 AM Reply Like
  • toomuchgas
    , contributor
    Comments (1035) | Send Message
    It would help prevent rail accidents from the north but obviously if oil is coming by barge from the south it wouldn't.
    29 Mar 2014, 12:34 PM Reply Like
  • User 3950401
    , contributor
    Comments (556) | Send Message
    I am a little surprised that US Oil industry has let this "single point of failure" endure for so long? If PSX goes ahead with it's NGL terminal, perhaps it should add a few other fuels to the list for when this happens again?
    28 Mar 2014, 10:35 PM Reply Like
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