Port Houston cargo volumes lifted by strong exports

(HOUSTON) – Port Houston’s container exports continue to outpace historic 2022 volumes. Loaded exports specifically are up 17 percent year-to-date compared to last year, due in large part to the demand for resin exports. In total, 1,026,260 loaded twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were handled through April at Port Houston, surpassing the 1 million mark earlier in the year than ever before.

A slight softening of import container cargo compared to the record-breaking volumes of 2022 was expected and budgeted for this year. Although loaded containers at Port Houston declined by 10 percent in April compared to April 2022, they are up 3 percent for the year. Port Houston’s total container volume for April declined by 8 percent compared to the same month last year, to 307,879 TEUs. Year-to-date total container volumes are flat at 1,241,910 TEUs.

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

As the world continues to move past the unprecedented times of the pandemic and the toll it took on the global supply chain, cargo activity appears to be normalizing locally and Port Houston has returned to a balance of imports and exports. Through April, Port Houston’s total container cargo consisted of 51 percent imports and 49 percent exports.

“As the fastest-growing and now the fifth-largest container port in the U.S., we must remain proactive and well-equipped to meet the needs of our customers,” said Roger Guenther, executive director at Port Houston. “Infrastructure investments remain a priority at Port Houston, along with the expansion of the Houston Ship Channel, which is already improving vessel transit times as part of Segment 1A’s completion.”

Port terminals are continuing a transition to cleaner equipment, with the recent arrival of 16 new yard mules for the container terminals. Purchased with the help of the Sea Port Environmental Grant, these new clean diesel yard trucks will help mitigate emissions and optimize the movement of cargo around the terminals.

In addition, three new neo-Panamax STS cranes are currently en route to the Bayport Container Terminal as part of the overall plan for additional wharf space and capacity there. Bayport’s new Wharf 6 is expected to be open to vessels in the third quarter of this year.

Steel continued to be the primary driver of tonnage growth at Port Houston’s multipurpose facilities in April. Steel imports were up 17 percent this month, reaching 442,037 tons. Total tonnage through all Port Houston facilities is up 1 percent through April.

Port Houston’s eight public terminals sit alongside the Houston Ship Channel, as do more than 200 private facilities. Collectively, Houston continues to be the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage, and an essential economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the U.S. overall.

– Port Houston

By Rich Miller