Businesses with ties to the Houston Ship Channel are reporting a period of rapid growth this year, estimating some $35 billion in capital investment and maintenance over the course of the next three years.
That’s an increase of about $14 billion from reported earlier estimates.
This is great news for the economy and the maritime industry. However, our Louisiana maritime injury attorneys just hope some of those investment funds will be funneled into boosting safety protections for the hundreds of thousands of workers who will be employed as the industry booms. Early reports are that investment in maintenance will be relatively modest, compared to the investment in infrastructure, which has more than doubled over the last year – and is expected to double again by next year.
Investment may actually increase even more, as only 51 of 132 targeted companies responded to the survey, despite the guarantee of anonymity from the Port of Houston Authority. The companies aren’t required to disclose their investment information, but we can expect that even those who did not answer will be investing heavily in coming years.
A major reason for the increase has to do with the boom in natural gas at domestic refineries. Other firms are spending billions of dollars in order to accommodate more use of this fuel. Advancements in a process of extraction called hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” has produced an excess of natural gas in recent years.
Ultimately, what all of this means is that there will be an estimated 112,000 new construction jobs in the area, in addition to the numerous maritime industry jobs that the expansion will accommodate. Some companies have come forward publicly to announce intentions to expand capacity by up to 20 percent over the next several years.
This growth is noteworthy because there hasn’t been a similar boom in this industry since at least the mid-1990s. We anticipate that similar growth may be expected at other regions along the Gulf Coast.
One important thing this survey does is provide a stronger argument to Congress for federal funds, as well as a greater share of the tax resources. As it now stands, just to maintain the width and depth of the channel through dredging, businesses along the area have to pay about $85 million for maintenance. However, only about $30 million of that is reimbursed by the federal government.
Maintenance of current facilities will be important to ensuring the safety of those workers.
Some different types of work accidents that preventative maintenance can circumvent include:
- Crude oil tanker and cargo ship explosions, which are often caused due to faulty systems that were not regularly serviced or properly inspected.
- Marine crane accidents on ports or ships. The risk is further amplified by the fact that the sea has a tendency to wear equipment much faster. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential.
- Shipyard injuries and illnesses – often related to construction – are unfortunately commonplace. These might include falls, falling debris, faulty equipment or even the release of poisonous fumes.
- Barge accidents, which are often caused by faulty towing cables.
- Cargo hauling accidents. It’s been well-documented that cargo haulers have one of the highest injury rates within the maritime industry.
If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime injury or have lost a relative in an offshore fatality, Call the Law Offices of William Gee III to speak to a maritime accident attorney at 1-800-CALL-GEE (1-800-225-5433) or contact us online today.