Friday AM February 18th, 2011

Unrest in Bahrain is creating fresh challenges for the U.S. As in Egypt, the Obama Administration is caught between its desire to support pro-democracy demonstrators and its need to stand by a key regional ally. Andrew Schneider reports on how turmoil in Bahrain could affect local business.
Port of HoustonHouston-based oil companies and service providers have a stake in Bahrain, though the island kingdom’s reserves are limited. There’s also a brisk financial services business, channeling Bahraini investment into Houston energy firms and real estate.

Both of those sectors should continue to do well. But there’s one industry that the turmoil in Bahrain could put a real crimp in.

“The Port of Houston has exported goods to Bahrain on the order of somewhere between $36 [million] and $42 million annually. And so, Bahrain’s a fairly large export market for Houston companies and for Texas companies going through the Port of Houston.”

Ken Culotta is a partner in the Houston office of international law firm King & Spaulding. He points to what happened in Egypt in the weeks leading up to President Mubarak’s ouster.

“Trade virtually stopped. The ports were closed, and there was a real inability for the Egyptian economy to resupply itself to the extent it was relying on imports.”

One of the most critical U.S. interests in Bahrain is the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Culotta says the last U.S. stop for much of the fleet’s logistical support is the Port of Houston.
Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...