Fog halts major shipping on Houston channel - USCG

HOUSTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Fog has halted major traffic on the Houston Ship Channel, affecting about 40 ships -- at least half of them tankers -- the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

Both the Galveston pilots and the Houston pilots stopped boarding ships, Galveston as of noon Wednesday and Houston as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

Fog is a frequent wintertime problem for ships along the central U.S. Gulf Coast, where about half of U.S. oil refining capacity is located and is heavily dependent on oil imports arriving by ship.

(Reporting by Bruce Nichols)

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