Exports up, imports and empties down at Port Houston

(HOUSTON) — Loaded export volumes at Port Houston are up 10 percent year to date, maintaining the upward trajectory seen throughout 2023 and helping support overall volumes through Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals.

These exports are primarily resins and Port Houston is the nation’s leading gateway for resin exports, with a 59 percent share. Loaded import volumes are down 7 percent year to date. Combined loaded volume is flat for the year.

Overall container volumes at Port Houston declined in August compared to last year, driven by a sharp drop in empty container volume. Year-to-date empty container volume is down 17 percent due to a relatively balanced market of import and export demand.

Barbours Cut Container Terminal dock, Port Houston. Port Houston photo

In August, Port Houston handled 307,624 TEUs, a 20 percent decrease compared to the same month last year. Of note, August 2022 was the biggest month ever at Port Houston for container volume, a record that stands today.

Total 2023 container volumes have surpassed 2.5 million TEUs through August, reaching 2,510,162 TEUs and down 4 percent compared to last year.

“After a record year in 2022, we were prepared to see a slight dip in import loads and export empty containers this year,” said Roger Guenther, executive director at Port Houston. “That said, we know the outlook is bright. The Texas economy is the eighth largest in the world and Port Houston is a vital gateway to millions of consumers. We are ensuring the fluidity of this gateway for the future by investing now in key infrastructure enhancements.”

Recent additions at Port Houston include the arrival of three STS cranes to Bayport Container Terminal, which are large enough to handle 15,000-TEU vessels. Also at Bayport Container Terminal, the newest wharf, Wharf 6, is expected to welcome its first vessel this fall.

Work also continues as scheduled on the Houston Ship Channel Expansion, known as Project 11, and by late 2024 more than 27 miles of the Galveston Bay area are expected to be complete.

“This critical project will benefit all who move cargo along the channel by increasing safety and efficiency, and it will help secure jobs in our region,” said Guenther.

Ships are already seeing advantages of the completion of Project 11’s Segment 1A, from Bolivar to Redfish, including reduced daylight restrictions.

Total tonnage across all Port Houston terminals is down 6 percent through August at 33,752,499 short tons. Steel is down 14 percent year to date, totaling 3,169,512 tons. Auto import units, however, have increased by 50 percent year to date compared to the same time period in 2022.

– Port Houston

By Professional Mariner Staff