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Steady Container Export Growth for Port Houston

Bayport Container Terminal, Port Houston

Posted on April 17, 2023

Activity across Port Houston’s docks remains steady through March with total tonnage through the eight public terminals up 4% year to date, reaching 12,850,330 short tons. Amidst a nationwide softening of imports, in March, Port Houston continued to see significant demand in loaded export containers.

Loaded export volumes at Port Houston reached 349,964 TEUs year-to-date, an increase of 26% in the first quarter of this year compared to last and 10% up compared to March 2022. In fact, this was the highest monthly volume for loaded exports in Port Houston’s history. Empty import volumes also increased by 111% for the month compared to March 2022, as carriers reposition containers to Houston to meet the high demand for resin and petrochemical exports. Port Houston is the nation’s number one port for resins exports, with a 59% share of U.S. resins exports and 73% share of U.S. PE exports in 2022.

Despite a 3% decline in total TEUs in March, container volumes through Port Houston are on track to hit 1 million TEUs earlier in the year than ever before. In Q1 2023, Port Houston handled 934,031 TEUs, or an increase of 3% compared to last year.

“We continue to see the softening of import demand across the U.S. and in Houston as well, where loaded import container TEUs at Port Houston’s terminals were down 12% in March. However, total throughput is offset by the strong export market we have in Houston and our ability to provide both export and import customers excellent customer service, skilled labor, and an efficient gateway,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston.

Port Houston’s Bayport Container Terminal is preparing for the arrival of three new STS cranes and the completion of Wharf 6 later this year. Port Houston’s Barbours Cut Container Terminal is also undergoing various improvements, with seven new RTGs arriving this November and seven in January 2024.

In addition to planned $1.4 billion in landside infrastructure investments over the next five years, Port Houston recently announced the completion of the first segment of the Houston Ship Channel Expansion – Project 11. Segment 1A, which includes eleven and a half miles in the Bay, was completed on schedule and on budget and is expected to help increase safety, reduce congestion, and improve vessel transit times by approximately an hour by reducing daylight restrictions.

Port Houston’s multipurpose facility also experienced strength in volumes in March, recording the best month for steel since 2015, at 461,552 tons and up 15% compared to the same month last year. The terminals also saw exponential growth in lumber, with an increase of 5,142% year-to-date, and auto import units were up 35% thus far this year compared to last.

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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