When it comes to economic clout, the Port of Beaumont and the Sabine-Neches Navigation District create a powerful duo. They are distinct entities, working in close partnership to bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the Texas and Beaumont economies, while sending goods and products around the globe.
A deep-water port near the mouth of Neches River, the Port of Beaumont is a world-class intermodal transportation facility served by three Class 1 rail carriers, with easy access to Interstate 10. Moreover, the Port of Beaumont Channel generates an economic impact of more than $20.95 billion annually.
Positioned on a deep-water channel with a 40-foot draft, the Port of Beaumont Channel is the nation’s No. 1 exporter of crude oil and liquid natural gas, with a refining capacity that is the third largest in the nation.
The waterway carries the diverse array of goods and products such as lumber, wind energy components, grain, petrochemicals and gasoline, driving the economies of Southeast Texas and the U.S.
“It’s the water highway that delivers 158 million tons of cargo each year, to energy, petrochemical and military users and consumers,” said Randy Reese, navigation district general manager. “The current annual economic benefits of the waterway to Jefferson County are more than $13 billion, with more than 135,000 permanent jobs.”
As the waterway flows, so does the fuel-rich economy.
“Refineries along the ship channel produce the majority of U.S. military jet fuel and 60 percent of the nation’s commercial jet fuel,” Reese said. “We’re projected to become the largest liquid natural gas exporter in the U.S and we’re home to the nation’s number one commercial military outload port.”
As a result of substantial economic growth along the waterway, and increased demand for capacity to support commerce and military operations, the navigation district is in the midst of a major expansion to deepen the waterway, which will present opportunities for diversification and growth for public and private facilities along the waterway.
“In 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Water Resource Development Act, authorizing the deepening project,” Reese said. “Since the authorization, we’ve received $2.3 million in federal money to complete the project engineering and design portion of the project this year. We’re working now to receive appropriations for general construction in the 2019 work plan, and then official construction will begin.”
The deepening takes the channel from 40 feet to 48, allowing larger ships to traverse the waterway and reach local ports. “This is very good news for our vital military cargo and vessels,” Reese said, “and the project secures our position as America’s energy gateway.”
Along with the deepening, opportunities for new business and development are brimming along the waterway.
“We have 22,000 acres of land bordering the waterway, owned by the district, industry, and the public, and it’s all for sale,” Reese said.
The port is growing in major ways, too.
Moving more than 2.2 million tons of dry bulk and 549,000 tons of break bulk in 2018, the port recently purchased a former Chicago Bridge & Iron facility, adding an additional 75 acres to its footprint. In an effort to facilitate development of the property, the port partnered with Allegiant Industrial Island Park, LLC to refurbish the facility, upgrade all utilities and rebuild the docks. Development activity will create approximately 200 full-time jobs to start, with the potential to add hundreds more as the facility grows.
“The Port of Beaumont is committed to creating jobs and acting as an economic engine in the community and we are optimistic about the business opportunities this property will present to Allegiant Industrial and the Port,” said Board President Lee Smith. “This project will set the stage for the Port and Allegiant Industrial to collaborate with our industrial neighbors and build upon the framework that already exists at the Island Park facility.”