updated 5/25/2011 7:16:45 PM ET 2011-05-25T23:16:45

HOUSTON, May 25, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority approved formation of Port Commission task forces and two separate memoranda of friendship and trade cooperation between the Port Authority and two ports in Mexico. The Port Authority also approved a memorandum of agreement with the Houston-Galveston Council, to participate in the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program Consortium, among several matters approved during the May 24 meeting.

Also at the meeting, Port Commissioners unanimously tabled a special agenda item for consideration of and possible action regarding the employment of Alec G. Dreyer, Chief Executive Officer.

In his monthly report, Dreyer said April continued the strong growth seen in all commodity categories.

"Steel is booming, with tonnage up 31 percent over last year. Year-to-date steel volumes are 1.1 million tons, ahead of last year by 69 percent," he said.

Primarily driven by the strong TEU volume gains in March and April, container revenue was up 31 percent for April and is up 17 percent year-to-date.

"Ship arrivals at our Turning Basin facilities were up strong in April with working vessels being ahead of last year by 11 percent," he said. "On a year-to-date basis, working vessels at our Turning Basin facilities are up five percent over last year."

Ship arrivals at Port Authority container facilities were up eight percent for the month and four percent year-to-date.

A total of three ships carrying 8,000 TEUs – the largest container ships to come into the Gulf of Mexico – arrived in April.

Twenty-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) volumes were up 19 percent and container tonnage was up a "staggering" 22 percent for the month, Dreyer noted. Year-to-date, TEUs are up 9 percent and container tonnage is up 11 percent.

SPECIAL AGENDA ITEM

(Agenda Q1) The Port Commission approved the formal designation of five standing task forces, each to be comprised of up to three members of the Port Commission. The Audit Task Force will primarily advise regarding Port Authority financial statements, its accounting and financial reporting processes and financial statement audit. The Governance Task Force will prepare and update Port Authority governance policies and procedures for Port Commission consideration, and action and review governance-related matters. The Pension Task Force is tasked to primarily advise regarding the administration of the Port Authority Restated Retirement Plan and the investment of the Plan's assets. The Procurement Task Force will prepare and update procurement policies and procedures for Port Commission consideration and action. Finally, the Small Business Development and Community Relations Task Force will update Small Business Development Program policies and procedures and advise regarding other small business development matters, and also update the Port Commission's Sponsorship Policy and Procedures.

ORIGINATION

(Agenda M1-2) The Port Commission approved two Memoranda of Friendship and Trade Cooperation, one with the Port of Progreso in the state of Yucatan, Mexico, and the other with the Port of Dos Bocas in Tabasco, Mexico. Both memoranda are intended to bring these ports to work together to develop and expand mutual understanding and cooperation and share technical and professional expertise regarding port administration and development, in an effort to promote greater economic benefits for the ports. The parties share a mutual interest in cooperating to generate new business by promoting the all-water routes between both ports and the Port Authority.

STRATEGIC PLANNING

(Agenda P3) The Port Commission approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the Houston-Galveston Area Council to participate in the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program Consortium. In July 2010, H-GAC asked the Port Authority to join a consortium of local governments and nonprofit groups to apply for a Regional Sustainable Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Port Authority signed a Memorandum of Agreement as a party of interest in the Regional Sustainable Planning Grant. In October 2010, H-GAC was awarded $3.75 million for regional planning for sustainable development. H-GAC has now requested that the Port Authority enter into a second MOA, to participate in the development of a regional plan for sustainable development in the Houston-Galveston area.

FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION

(Agenda I5) The Port Commission awarded purchase orders totaling $597,500 to Portable Computer Systems, Inc., Verizon Select Services. Inc., and Spillman Technologies, Inc. for hardware, software, installation services and communication service, to install vehicle tracking on portable computers in Port Security and Emergency Operations Department vehicles. Homeland Security Grant funds have been approved for use by the Port Authority in procuring and installing these services for fleet tracking and remote computers for the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.

About the Port of Houston Authority

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, there are more than 7,700 vessel calls at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in overall total tonnage. The port authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. The second recertification of those facilities in 2009 included an extension for the state-of-the-art Bayport Container Terminal. The port authority is the first port authority in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for its port police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=720

CONTACT: Lisa Ashley
         Director, Corporate Communications
         Office: (713) 670-2644
         Cell: (832) 247-8179
         Email: lashley@poha.com

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