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Houston Ship Channel to Resume Outbound Traffic

Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Houston Ship Channel pilots expected to begin reducing the backlog of vessels waiting to depart the largest U.S. petroleum port about 2 p.m. local time as fog lifted, according to the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service.

About 23 outbound ships were queued in Houston, with 19 waiting to enter the channel from the Gulf of Mexico after fog reduced visibility overnight, Levi Campbell, a watch supervisor with the service, said in an interview.

Houston pilots began inbound transits at 7:45 a.m. local time, Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Cole said today in an earlier interview. Three ships are waiting for pilots in order to enter the other Galveston Bay ports of Texas City and Galveston, Campbell said.

Houston tanker traffic also had been interrupted yesterday by fog.

Many U.S. Gulf Coast refiners receive crude supplies by tanker. A prolonged halt may force refiners to reduce operating rates, possibly increasing prices for refined products as companies turn to spot markets to help them meet supply contracts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net.

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