Will Calhoun Port Authority issue $120M in bonds for Matagorda channel expansion?

The Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort serves as a gateway to world markets for the Texas Mid-Coast Region. It port plays a vital role in supporting Texas chemical manufacturing industries and in building a stable economic foundation for Calhoun County. Contributed Photo

Posted on June 9, 2021

PORT LAVACA — The Calhoun Port Authority is pondering issuing $120 million in bonds to pay for a dock and wharf that are central to its plans to widen the Matagorda Ship Channel.

The port authority is expected to discuss — and likely take action on — the merits of the bond package Wednesday during a special meeting and its regular meeting.

Port Lavaca’s chief port in January approved starting up a public/private partnership with Max Midstream to invest $360 million into the port’s plans to deepen and widen the channel by 2023.

Max Midstream, a year-old Houston-based energy company, acquired the Seahawk Pipeline and Terminal from Oaktree Capital at the Port Lavaca port in 2019.

Max Midstream has connected the port directly to the Eagle Ford Basin and will soon be connected to the Permian Basin, with plans to transport 20 million barrels a month upon completion.

Officials for both the port and the company believe expansion is crucial to making Port Lavaca’s chief port more competitive with those in Houston, Brownsville and Corpus Christi, commonly viewed as preferable export hubs.

The current configuration of Port Lavaca’s port — 38 feet deep and 200 feet wide — is too shallow and narrow to safely allow Aframax and Suezmax vessels.

Passage last year of the Water Resources and Development Act in Washington may have rekindled years-long talk of an expansion of the port, which acts as a gateway to world markets for the Texas Mid-Coast Region. It also plays a key role in supporting Texas chemical manufacturing industries, while being served by the Matagorda Ship Channel and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Report for the Matagorda Ship Channel Improvement Project was signed in November 2019. It calls for dredging the port to 47 feet deep and widening it to 300 feet.

A zone has been set up in the meantime to allow Max Midstream to move its materials through lightering, a process that involves transferring cargo onto larger offshore Panamax ships.

Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed by 2023, though some preliminary engineering and design work already has begun.

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