A demand for clean energy brought some increase to cargo business at the Port of Galveston in the second quarter of 2019, port officials announced this week.
But continued struggles with grain exports to China ultimately meant that the port’s non-cruise businesses were less active overall than they were in the same time period in 2018.
Wind turbines being shipped to the port helped increase the port’s general cargo business by 104 percent over the second quarter of 2018, according to the port.
In the second quarter of 2019, the port handled 72,015 tons of general cargo. In the same three-month period of 2018, it handled 35,348 tons of general cargo.
“The market for clean energy continues to be in high demand,” Port Director Rodger Rees said.
At its current pace, the port could move more than 2,000 pieces of wind turbine cargo in 2019, Rees said. In 2018, the port moved 1,666 pieces of wind turbine cargo, he said.
“This not only contributes to our bottom line, it directly benefits our community by generating jobs,” Rees said. “Galveston is one of only four Texas ports that can accommodate wind energy equipment.”
The turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which in turn spins a generator to create electricity.
Not every product that is shipped into or out of the port did well in the second quarter, however.
The port saw a 68 percent decrease in the amount of grain exported from Galveston, from 334,984 tons in 2018 to 105,976 tons in 2019.
The decrease in grains led to the port handling 11 percent less overall cargo in the second quarter than it did in the same period last year.
The grain decreases are due to tariffs placed on U.S. grain being shipped to China, port spokeswoman Cristina Galego said.
Overall, the port moved 15.4 percent less cargo through the port in the first six months of 2019 than it did in 2018. However, in July port officials reported that the port was still ahead of budgeted revenue projections for the year.
That’s largely because, the port has also continued to drive revenues from lay vessels — ships that stop in the port for a short time for refueling, inspections and repairs, according to the port.
The port has handled 118 lay vessels this year. That work raised $1.8 million in revenue for the port. In its budget, the port had only expected to have earned about $813,000 in revenue from the work, officials said.
The port has already surpassed the $1.1 million it brought it from lay dockage in all of 2018.
The increases so far this year are part of an ongoing trend at the port. The port generated more than $43.5 million in operating revenue in 2018. It generated about $37.8 million in revenue in 2017.