Houston - A bottleneck of traffic on the Houston Ship Channel eased on Tuesday though one-way travel restrictions remained following a weekend collision between a deep-draft ship and a barge, officials said on Tuesday.
About 9,000 barrels of gasoline spilled into the channel near Bayport, Texas, when a 755-foot (230-meter) tanker collided over the weekend with a Kirby Inland Marine tugboat towing two barges containing the fuel. West Texas Intermediate crude at the Magellan East Houston (MEH) terminal on the ship channel traded at an $8.30 a barrel premium to U.S. crude futures, up from a $7.75 premium on Friday, traders said.
“The ship channel situation has definitely influenced” prices for MEH, a broker said. “Vessels are queued up right now, but it should get softer after that.” Salvage operations were continuing on Tuesday on one barge that ruptured and a second vessel that capsized.
Twelve outbound vessels were waiting on Tuesday afternoon, down from 14 at 6 a.m. local time, said the group, which is overseeing the cleanup and salvage. Another 106 ships were at anchorage awaiting transit. “It’s causing havoc,” said one crude trader waiting to discharge cargoes in Houston. “It’s limiting the vessels and transportation capacity. I’m eating a lot of demurrage (costs).”
Emergency workers have not yet begun cutting into the hull of the capsized barge, which has six tanks with fuel that will have to be drained. Responders are considering towing the barge before removing the fuel, but timing remains unclear, officials said.