Shipping and Logistics

Watco Sees Slowdown in Outbound Steel Shipments

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Houston-area coil importers may be searching urgently for more storage space in coming weeks.

Watco Texas Terminals at the Port of Houston have experienced decreased capacity in recent months due to a drop in outgoing shipments.

ship coilsSources say some importers have had to find alternatives for material that has already hit the docks. But that’s not to imply that Watco is completely booked.

“We have seen the outbound volumes of steel cargos slow, which has resulted in less available space in our warehouses throughout our network. However, given the size of our network, we can typically accommodate most cargos,” said Len Crescenzo, vice president of sales at Watco.

Watco Texas Terminals is part of Watco Companies LLC, a Pittsburg, Kans.-based transportation company.

With a significant presence in steel coil storage in the Houston area, many importers rely on availability at Watco’s facilities. However, now that demand is softening, customers may lack room in their own storage space – thus forcing them to depend more heavily on third-party locations.

Previously, a last-minute call may have been enough to find a temporary home for material, but now it appears that more planning will be necessary.

“We have had instances where we’ve committed space to a customer cargo which caused us to decline a spot cargo. We are constantly evaluating and managing our storage space to compete for as many cargos as possible,” Crescenzo said.

By Becca Moczygemba,

Becca Moczygemba

Read more from Becca Moczygemba

Latest in Shipping and Logistics

CRU: Baltimore bridge collapse affects more than half of US thermal coal exports

A container ship collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, causing it to collapse. This has blocked sea lanes into and out of Baltimore port, which is the largest source of US seaborne thermal coal exports. The port usually exports 1–1.5 million metric tons (mt) of thermal coal per month. It is uncertain when sea shipping will be restored. But it could be several weeks or more. There are coal export terminals in Virginia, though diversion to these ports would raise costs.