While the aftereffects of 2020 continue to reverberate across industries worldwide, the Port of Brownsville overcame significant challenges to develop sustainable infrastructure and job creation for local families and businesses.

As we look back at the quarterly highlights of 2021, we celebrate the successes and look forward to the promise of 2022.

First Quarter

  • In its annual State of the Port, the port reported record-breaking statistics with the movement of 11.6 million short tons of diverse cargo with operating revenues of $37 million for FY 2020.
  • International Shipbreaking, part of the world-leading recycler EMR Metal Recycling, gained EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SSR) accreditation – the first in the United States – for its site at the Port of Brownsville after investing $30 million in compliant infrastructure. ISL received the first EU vessel for recycling – the MT Wolverine on Jan. 29.

Second Quarter

  • The Bahia Grande Restoration Project to expand the current 34-foot-wide half-mile Carl “Joe” Gayman channel to 250 feet and deepen the channel to nine feet began in May. The multi-agency project led by the Texas General Land Office on behalf of the Deepwater Horizon Texas Trustee Implementation Group will increase tidal exchange and restore the ecosystem as a major fish, wildlife and waterfowl nursery and habitat north of the Brownsville Ship Channel. The Bahia Grande is a 10,000-acre coastal ecosystem and wetland complex that includes three shallow basins located within the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Sergio Tito Lopez
  • In May, Sunoco LP announced the development of a refined products terminal at the port. The site will also facilitate Sunoco’s efforts to sell into the growing fuels export market to Mexico. The Port of Brownsville is one of the largest exporters of refined petroleum products to Mexico. Sunoco expects the terminal to be in service by the second quarter of 2022 with a total investment of approximately $55 million.
  • On May 16, the Brownsville Navigation District commemorated its 85th anniversary marking the opening of the port in 1936. Since then, the port has served as the economic engine of the Rio Grande Valley. A grand community celebration event was held in October to celebrate the anniversary.
  • In June, the Port of Brownsville awarded thirty-two high school graduates $1,000 scholarships through its scholarship program, first created in 2020 by the Brownsville Navigation District Board of Commissioners. Since its inception, $64,000 in scholarships have been distributed to 64 high school students attending schools within the Brownsville Navigation District to help them pursue their education and career dreams.

Third Quarter

  • In August, Keppel AmFELS held its sea trials for the M/V George, one of two Jones Act containerships built at the Port of Brownsville. The M/V George and its sister ship the M/V Janet Marie will join Pasha Hawaii’s fleet and serve the Hawaii/U.S. trade lane.
  • On Sept. 23, the Texas A&M University System and two of its state engineering agencies – the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) –announced a new initiative at the Port of Brownsville to invigorate advanced manufacturing, with workforce development programs that will prepare people for high-need jobs. The Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing/Training Innovation Now (TRAIN) program gathers community input, creates collaborations and develops training courses that meet the needs of current and future employers at the Port of Brownsville.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Port of Brownsville opened its gates to the public for the 85th Anniversary Grand Community Celebration on Oct. 23. Thousands of visitors enjoyed the sights and sounds of the port, participating in family-friendly activities such as educational boat and bus tours, live music, and food.
  • Construction of the South Port Connector Road nears completion at the end of 2021. The 1.9-mile long directly connects Ostos Road to State Highway 4 and enhances traffic safety by providing another entry and exit to and from the port and convenient access to commercial lanes at Veterans International Bridge.
  • During the Port of Brownsville’s annual Customer Appreciation Luncheon held Dec.14, Schaefer Stevedoring was recognized as the 2021 Chairman’s Award recipient by BND Chairman Sergio Tito Lopez. Ken Schaefer, president and CEO accepted the accolade for the company’s achievements throughout its 30 years of operation.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Sergio Tito Lopez, chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District. The column first appeared in the Port of Brownsville’s January 2022 e-newsletter. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Lopez can be reached by email via: [email protected].

Editor’s Note: Credit for the main image accompanying the above guest column goes to the Brownsville Navigation District.

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