Author: admin

State of the Port: Port of Brownsville achieves record year in FY 2017

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A full house of regional stakeholders applauded Port of Brownsville officials during reports of record revenue and tonnage in 2017 at its annual State of the Port Address March 8.

“The state of the Port of Brownsville is strong and getting stronger,” said Brownsville Navigation District Vice Chairman John Reed. “As evidence, I offer two critical measures of success: total operating revenue and tonnage.”

The port’s total operating revenue reached nearly $24 million in unaudited total revenue, exceeding the previous high-water mark of $19.9 million set in 2015 by more than $4 million. On the annual tonnage side of the business, the volume of cargo handled at the port topped 10.3 million short tons, also a new record.

Reed cautioned the crowd of more than 230 the Port of Brownsville cannot afford to rest on its laurels and will work even harder to accelerate this momentum.

“Just because we have always done things in a certain way, doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement, aimed at advancing the everyday lives of those living in Brownsville, Cameron County and the Rio Grande Valley. And that is what we intend to,” he added.

BND Commission Secretary Sergio Tito Lopez and Commissioners Carlos Masso and Ralph Cowen discussed new businesses at the port and current and future projects including channel deepening, the $1.5 billion Valley Crossing Pipeline project and the renovation and expansion of the port’s administration facilities.

Other noteworthy achievements of 2017 discussed at the State of the Port:

  • Vessel traffic: A 21% increase in vessel traffic. A total of 1,317 vessels called on the port in 2017 – up from 1,091 vessel calls registered FY 2016.
  • New tenant operations: CSC Sugar/Sugaright; West Plains LLC; SteelCoast; Texan Cement.
  • Foreign Trade Zone No. 62: The port’s FTZ again ranked second in the nation for the value of exports in 2016, according to the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board’s annual report to Congress. FTZ No. 62 reported more than $2.8 billion in exported goods in 2016. Additionally, it ranked 25th nationally for the value of imports totaling more than $2.5 billion. FTZ No. 62 consistently ranks in the top five nationally since 2012 and this marks the second time in a row it achieved the nation’s number two spot.
  • Ship Recycling: The USS Independence completed its final voyage of 16,000 miles after arriving at the Port of Brownsville from Bremerton, Washington in June. International Shipbreaking Ltd. won the Navy bid to recycle the 60,000-ton vessel, the last of the Forrestal-class of “supercarriers” to arrive at the port. This is the third vessel of its kind to be recycled by the company, which is part of the EMR Group.
  • Keppel AmFELS: Honolulu-based Pasha Hawaii announced the selection of Port of Brownsville-based Keppel AmFELS for the construction of two containerships, with an option to order two additional vessels. Delivery of the first vessel is expected in the first quarter of 2020, while the second vessel will be delivered in the third quarter of the same year. The contracts are worth $400 million to Keppel, creating 700 local well-paying jobs.
  • Regional Collaboration: The BND signed an MOU with the Mission Economic Development Corporation to collaborate on international trade opportunities with Mexico and other development projects. This effort was subsequently followed with similar MOUs with the Cameron County Bridge System and Pharr Bridge, all promoting international economic development.
  •  Awards/Recognitions:
    • 2018 AVA Gold Digital Award for the port’s website
    • 2017 Platinum MarCom Award for the Port of Brownsville Directory
    • Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association. This is the sixth consecutive year the BND has received this award.

Click here to download the State of the Port Address Remarks and the State of the Port Presentation.


Brownsville Navigation District Vice Chairman John Reed delivers his remarks during the annual State of the Port Address March 8, 2018, at the Ambassador Events Center in Brownsville, Texas.



From left to right: Casandra Garcia Meade, Deputy State Director for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz; State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.; and Ana Maria Garcia, Regional Director for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, attended the Port of Brownsville’s annual State of the Port Address.







Impulsa México a Puerto de Brownsville

By SILVIA OLVERA/El Norte (Mexico)

Article published February 13, 2018

MONTERREY, México – Impulsados por México, especialmente por el sector acerero, el Puerto de Brownsville logró mover 10.3 millones de toneladas de mercancía durante el 2017, lo que representó un incrementó del 11 por ciento en relación al 2016.

Eduardo Campirano, director del puerto, describió que aunque se habla mucho en Estados Unidos de un déficit comercial con México, a Brownsville las cifras lo favorecen.

Refirió que el 90 por ciento de la operación está relacionada con México y un porcentaje similar les favorece en su balanza comercial.

De visita en Monterrey, a donde vino para reunirse con directivos del Consejo Mexicano de Comercio Exterior Noreste, Campirano dijo que sin importar el destino del TLC, la relación con las empresas mexicanas y con las regiomontanas seguirá en aumento.

Por esta razón y por la instalación de empresas estadounidenses que buscan atender al mercado de ambos lados de la frontera, el puerto ampliará su infraestructura.

“Estamos construyendo un muelle para productos líquidos, es el muelle número 6, que empezó el año pasado y esperamos concluirlo a fines de este año o principios del 2019.

“Tenemos, además, un proyecto principal con el que buscamos incrementar la profundidad del canal de 42 a 52 pies, ahorita estamos tramitando todos los permisos para luego iniciar la construcción”.

Además, esperan se concrete la instalación de tres plantas de gas natural licuado, que ya tienen dos años en trámites de permisos ante diversas dependencias del Gobierno federal, y que de lograr el visto bueno, sería una inversión conjunta por 38.8 mil millones de dólares, y esto contribuiría a diversificar la vocación del puerto.

El director dijo que este año será decisivo y conocerán si les dan las autorizaciones o no, pero una de ellas ha gastado 80 millones de dólares en esos trámites para cumplir todo lo que le piden.

Otro proyecto es de la empresa acerera Big River, que analiza expandir operaciones y el puerto es una opción, que de concretarse, invertiría mil 500 millones de dólares para productos del sector automotriz para atender tanto a EU como a México, y que generaría 500 empleos.

Campirano confió en que con la reforma energética en México, más empresas de aquí puedan ver al puerto como una opción para el movimiento de combustibles y de gas natural.

NextDecade Completes Rio Grande LNG FEED Update

BROWNSVILLE – NextDecade Corporation announced Feb. 1 the completion of the front-end engineering and design (FEED) update package with CB&I for the proposed Rio Grande LNG project at the Port of Brownsville.

The update incorporates identified cost reduction and value improvement initiatives and reconfirms market-leading engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) cost estimates for three trains of $490 per ton with a target of $450 per ton. For two trains the EPC cost estimate improves to $535 per ton with a target of $500 per ton, the company said.

“Utilizing Air Products’ AP-C3MR liquefaction technology and GE rotating equipment to achieve optimal configuration and economies of scale, Rio Grande LNG stands out thanks to its proven project design allowing for low risk, highly competitive economics across multiple build scenarios,” said NextDecade CEO Matt Schatzman.

The scalable development affords NextDecade flexibility to reach Final Investment Decision (FID) with as few as two trains, without sacrificing economics.

“We intend to develop our full 6-train project at Rio Grande, and by incorporating a competitive, scalable design, we are able to offer a lower risk profile to both investors and customers beginning with our first two trains,” added Schatzman.

NextDecade and CB&I are currently finalizing an open book estimate to incorporate the FEED update improvements.

For additional information about the Rio Grande LNG project visit

Nordic Pollux is Largest Cargo Ship at the Port of Brownsville

BROWNSVILLE – The Port of Brownsville set a record Jan. 31 when it received the M/V Nordic Pollux, the largest cargo vessel to ever call on the port to date.

The big tanker is the size of two-and-a-half football fields and almost longer than the combined height of three Statues of Liberty stacked atop one another, measuring 900 feet long and 157 feet wide – just three feet shy of the width of a football field! It’s the longest and widest ship to call on the Port of Brownsville.

The oil tanker made its way from Philadelphia to Brownsville where it loaded approximately 150,000 barrels of heavy naphtha.

Moving a ship this size into port took an experienced harbor pilot and three powerful Signet Maritime tugboats to precisely maneuver the behemoth vessel into place, bumping, pushing and pulling the Nordic Pollux to the Port of Brownsville’s Liquid Cargo Dock 5.

The Brazos Santiago Pilots safely navigated the ship along the port’s 17-mile-long channel and expertly rotated the tanker in the channel turning basin, with all three tugs working in careful unison.

The growing trend of larger ships in the international maritime fleet is influencing big changes in shipping industry infrastructure, like the recent expansion of the Panama Canal and enhanced port infrastructure around the world – including improvements at the Port of Brownsville. The port is building bigger and deeper berths and plans to deepen its ship channel to 52 feet from its current design depth of 42 feet, making the Port of Brownsville among the deepest ports in the Gulf of Mexico upon completion.

Completion of the port’s channel deepening project allows it to accommodate deeper draft cargo ships, making visits by ships like the Nordic Pollux a more common sight. Bigger ships not only mean more cargo, it means more jobs to move cargo on and off the giant vessels.

The Port of Brownsville’s channel deepening project received Congressional authorization in late-2016 and it is currently in the permitting stage.


The Nordic Pollux is the longest and widest ship to call on the Port of Brownsville to date.


The oil tanker made its way from Philadelphia to Brownsville where it loaded approximately 150,000 barrels of heavy naphtha.


The big tanker is the size of two-and-a-half football fields and almost longer than the combined height of three Statues of Liberty stacked atop one another, measuring 900 feet long and 157 feet wide – just three feet shy of the width of a football field.





Port of Brownsville Earns Prestigious MarCom Award for 2017 Port Directory

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The Port of Brownsville directory was recognized with a 2017 Platinum MarCom Award for its inaugural port directory in the government publications category.

MarCom Awards, an international creative competition, recognizes the outstanding achievement by creative professionals involved in the concept, direction, design and production of marketing and communications materials and programs. Each year, the MarCom Awards receives more than 6,000 entries from across the globe, and entries are judged by industry professionals.

“On behalf of the commissioners, I congratulate the port’s marketing and communications team for their hard work and creativity, and for bringing a new level of transparency to the Port of Brownsville. This small group of individuals consistently demonstrate a high standard of excellence,” said John Wood, Brownsville Navigation District Chairman.

The 2017 port directory is a comprehensive 84-page magazine style guide featuring helpful articles detailing the advantages of doing business at the Port of Brownsville, photos and graphics highlighting the port’s operational specifications, a pullout facilities map and contact information for tenants at the port.

The 2018 edition of the port directory is currently under production. Advertisers may contact Patty Gonzales, director of communications, at or (956) 838-7004 for more information.

MarCom is one of the oldest, largest, and most prestigious creative competitions in the world. It is sponsored and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP), a 23-year-old international organization consisting of several thousand creative professionals, and is the industry’s pre-eminent third-party evaluator of creative work. The organization has judged over 200,000 entries since its formation in 1994.

A complete list of award winners may be found at


The Port of Brownsville directory was recognized with a 2017 Platinum MarCom Award for its inaugural port directory in the government publications category.



Port of Brownsville and Union Pacific Culminate Switchyard Relocation Project

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – On Dec. 28, 2017, Brownsville Navigation District Chairman John Wood signed final paperwork with Union Pacific Railroad to officially culminate a 44-year project to improve the region’s economic vitality, environment and social benefits by relocating two outdated railroad switchyards from downtown Brownsville to areas closer to the Port of Brownsville.

The benefit to regional residents is fewer railroad crossings. The advantage to the port is greater efficiencies for its growing number of railroad customers with increased volumes and speed of service. Now rail customers of the port and Union Pacific routinely partner with the Rio Grande International Railway to move tens of thousands of rail cars annually throughout the United States and into Mexico.

The Brownsville/Matamoros Railroad Relocation Demonstration Project began as part of the Federal Highway Act of 1973 with the goal of reducing urban conflicts with train and vehicular traffic within the city limits of Brownsville. As a result, the downtown Southern Pacific switchyard between 6th and 7th streets was relocated to the port and the railroad tracks in front of both the new Federal Courthouse and the Cameron County Courthouse were removed, eliminating the associated train noise, exhaust emissions and sometimes frustrating traffic congestion.

“The project, while sometimes confused with the West Rail Bridge project, was actually a stand-alone effort intended to benefit Brownsville and Cameron County by separating people, cars and railroad operations,” according to BND Chairman Wood. “The final documents equitably transfer land and rail assets from Union Pacific and the Port of Brownsville to each party, with the port assuming ownership of the former UP Palo Alto Rail Yard.”

Although the official paperwork ending the project has just been signed, the community has benefited from numerous improvements associated with the effort for years. In addition to the relocated switchyard and railroad tracks, the project included the construction of several grade separated overpasses segregating vehicular traffic from rail operations on SH 48 and FM 511; with an additional bridge at FM 1847 and FM 511 over the port lead rail line. The project also includes the construction of the railroad mainline from the UP Olmito Rail Yard with associated bridges at US 77/83 Expressway and a new UP railyard.


Brownsville Navigation District Chairman John Wood signs the final paperwork to officially complete the Switchyard Relocation project between the Port of Brownsville and Union Pacific.

Officials plan to break ground on East Loop project

BY NADIA TAMEZ-ROBLEDO/ The Brownsville Herald

Article published January 14, 2018

After more than three decades of incremental progress, Cameron County and Brownsville officials anticipate the first phase of a road construction project to divert commercial vehicle traffic away from International Boulevard will break ground this year.

Pete Sepulveda Jr., executive director of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, said his office is working with the Port of Brownsville on a wetland mitigation plan for a two-mile stretch of road that will connect State Highway 4 to docks on Ostos Road.

Once approved by state and federal agencies, he said, construction of the road will take about one year and $10 million.

The port connector is the first phase of the larger State Highway 32 construction project, also called the East Loop, which will route commercial trucks traveling between Veterans Bridge and the Port of Brownsville around the city’s southeast side. That phase will cost about $60 million, Sepulveda said.

Leadership of the complex project changed hands half a dozen times before it was put under the mobility authority’s stewardship, he said. The Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority works in tandem with the Brownsville and county governments, and approval by state and federal agencies must be sought at each stage.

Mark Lund, director of the Brownsville Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the East Loop has been discussed since he moved to the city in 1985. The mobility authority will put about $5.3 million toward the port connector, he said, and the MPO will, in turn, allocate a matching amount of its federally granted funds on future East Loop construction.

“The first two miles is unlikely to change traffic flows, but it’s more significant (because) this is a turning point in getting this project moving ahead,” Lund said. “We’re pleased to see progress on this project.”

Safety is among the chief concerns that will be addressed by the East Loop project. Lund said about 1,000 commercial vehicles travel between Veterans Bridge and the Port of Brownsville each day, passing schools, businesses and residential areas along the way. An environmental assessment brief by Lund stated that because of congestion along the corridor, “the last several years, there have been multiple fatalities along the route.”

“It’s a high priority for us,” Sepulveda said. “It’s not safe to have those vehicles driving down a residential boulevard.”

Commercial vehicles enteredorlefttheport147,802 times last year, according to Port of Brownsville data. Theportalsoissued32,131 permits for overweight truck loads, which are up to 120,000 pounds, Port of Brownsville Communications Director Patty Gonzales said. That represents a more than 29 percent increase in permits since 2013.

The East Loop will cut down significantly on the travel times of commercial vehicles, Lund said.

“When you’re dealing with international trade especially, it always helps in terms of competition if you can move the goods faster,” he said. “As more traffic moves to State Highway

32, eventually that could become congested, but right now that (time savings) would be dramatic.”

Eduardo Campirano, director and CEO of the Port of Brownsville, said direct access to the port created by the East Loop would impact any cargo shipped between the port and Veterans Bridge.

“It’s part of the logistics that help fuel the local economy,” he said.

Campirano said the port will work with the mobility authority to mitigate about 14 acres of wetlands that will be disturbed by the port connector’s construction. They could create an equivalent amount of wetlands near the site or elsewhere, he said.

Sepulveda said talks over wetland mitigation started before the holidays, and he expects to meet with port officials about the issue this week.

“(When) we look at the area and get a better feel for it, we’ll know how to address it,” he said.

Sepulveda said environmental studies for the East Loop also are well underway.

“We believe that if we work it aggressively, we can get environmental clearance this year,” he said, opening the door for right of way acquisition and design.

Registration Open for Annual Port of Brownsville 5K1M Dock Dash

Pre-registration is open for the annual Port of Brownsville 5K1M Dock Dash scheduled for Saturday, March 3, 2018.

The family-friendly run/walk event for adults and kids is free of charge. Pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt while supplies last.

The event is also the mid-point weigh-in for participants of The Challenge-RGV, an initiative by the University of Texas School of Public Health encouraging local residents to increase physical activity and live a healthy life.

To register, download form 2018 5K1M Dock Dash Registration Form and submit to, or via fax to (956) 831-5006.



Port of Brownsville Inaugural Chairman’s Award Presented to International Shipbreaking Ltd.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas—The Port of Brownsville today presented International Shipbreaking Ltd. (ISL) with its inaugural Chairman’s Award in recognition of the company’s outstanding commitment to community, economic development, and representation of the port to trading partners around the world.

The Chairman’s Award will be an annual award to highlight the achievements of port tenants in the areas of business growth, leadership, job creation, customer service, innovation, safety, and community involvement.

“The Port of Brownsville succeeds when its tenants and users succeed,” said Brownsville Navigation Chairman John Wood. “The Chairman’s Award is an expression of appreciation and support for the efforts that our tenants put forth to make the port the leading economic engine of the Rio Grande Valley.”

Chairman Wood continued, “ISL demonstrates a strong sense of purpose in every aspect of its business and exhibits true leadership using best practices of good corporate governance and creating a culture of high integrity.”

International Shipbreaking Ltd. is a subsidiary of EMR Group providing dismantling and recycling services for the U.S. Navy and commercial ships, drilling rigs, and other equipment. The company has operated at the Port of Brownsville since 1995 and employs more than 250.

“Receiving the Port of Brownsville Chairman’s Award is a tremendous honor for me and all of our employees,” said Chris Green, President of International Shipbreaking Ltd. “ISL and the EMR Group started with a vision for the Port of Brownsville ship recycling industry, and implementation of this vision has allowed us to provide a stable career for our employees and development of our site into the best marine recycling facility in the world.”

“We have just begun to implement our vision and will continue to raise the bar in this industry with regards to safety, environmental compliance and community involvement,” he added.

The Chairman’s Award was presented to ISL at the Port of Brownsville’s annual customer appreciation luncheon, Dec. 5.


Brownsville Navigation District Chairman John Wood (fourth from left) presents the Chairman’s Award to ISL President Chris Green (center) and the ISL management team.