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Port Houston Volumes Buoyed by Strong Exports

Barbours Cut Container Terminal dock, Port Houston

Posted on May 17, 2023

Amid expected slight softening of imports

HOUSTON – Port Houston’s container exports continue to outpace historic 2022 volumes. Loaded exports specifically are up 17% year-to-date compared to last year, due in large part to the demand for resin exports. In total, 1,026,260 loaded 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% in April compared to April 2022, they are up 3% for the year. Port Houston’s total container volume for the month of April declined by 8% compared to the same month last year, to 307,879 TEUs. Year-to-date total container volumes are flat at 1,241,910 TEUs thus far this year

As we continue 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. In fact, through April Port Houston’s total container cargo consisted of 51% imports and 49% 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 in-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% this month, reaching 442,037 tons. Total tonnage through all Port Houston facilities is up 1% 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.

About Port Houston

For more than 100 years, Port Houston has owned and operated the public wharves and terminals along the Houston Ship Channel, including the area’s largest breakbulk facility and two of the most efficient container terminals in the country. Port Houston is the advocate and a strategic leader for the Channel. The Houston Ship Channel complex and its more than 200 public and private terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is 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. The Port of Houston supports the creation of nearly 1.35 million jobs in Texas and 3.2 million jobs nationwide, and economic activity totaling $339 billion in Texas – 20.6 percent of Texas’ total gross domestic product (GDP) – and $801.9 billion in economic impact across the nation. For more information, visit the website at

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