The Port of Lavaca-Point Comfort is managed by the Calhoun Port Authority and is located in Point Comfort, Texas, a city in the Mid-Coast Region. The port is served by the Matagorda Ship Channel and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Matagorda Ship Channel extends for 24 miles and connects the Point Comfort Turning Basin to the Gulf of Mexico.
The location allows for international shipment of a variety of goods, but the majority of shipments in this port are of chemicals. The port is a key part of the chemical manufacturing and shipping industry of Texas and the surrounding region; the port's primary cargoes include chemicals, petrochemicals, aluminum ore, and fertilizer products.
In order to expedite the shipment of chemicals, the Port of Lavaca-Point Comfort operates three liquid cargo ship docks. Considered to be the primary facility of the port, it consists of a 1,100 foot long, 20 foot high MLT pier with two ship berths and multiple loading arms. The pier features a third berth on the east end. The liquid cargo berths were built to accommodate future deepening after ship channel improvements are finally completed.
Shipments of liquid and petrochemicals are the main export of the port, which go to factories and scientific facilities all over the world. Many of these chemicals are produced in the adjacent industrial park, featuring facilities owned by Formosa Plastics, Alcoa, Fluor and others. The port claims to be the largest shipper of chemicals in the United States. In September, 2014, Formosa Plastics announced a $2 billion expansion of its petrochemical complex which will include a propane dehydrogenation unit that converts propane into propylene.
A dry bulk dock went into full operation in 2011. Currently, it can handle bulk carriers up to 740 feet in length. The cargo handling system that is installed on this pier consists of a spiral conveyor unloading tower that travels on dock rails. This allows it to access each cargo hold and transport goods directly to nearby industrial sites via a continuous conveyor system. The conveyor system is used chiefly to transport shipments of limestone and petroleum coke to the Formosa Plastics circulating fluidized bed power plant, which provides power to the company’s chemical production complex.
Additional facilities at the port include a general cargo dock, liquid cargo barge terminal, and multi-purpose dock. The liquid cargo barge terminal consists of six slips that are available on a cooperative basis. In addition, the port has set aside three acres of open storage area for project staging and cargo consolidation purposes. Rail service is provided by Northern Railway and Union Pacific.
Currently, the port operates at a depth of 36 feet and a width of 200 feet. In November of 2010, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a proposal by the port to expand to a 44 foot depth and 400 foot width. This improvement was deemed necessary in order to accommodate the larger ships that are now becoming more common throughout the shipping industry. At the present time, however, construction on this project has not started.
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