Container volume at Port Houston declined in August by 20 per cent compared to the same month last year, recording a throughput of 307,624 TEU.
This was primarily driven by a sharp drop in empty container volume, which decreased by 17 per cent year-to-date (YTD) due to a relatively balanced market of import and export demand.
August of 2022 was the biggest month ever at the port for container volume, a record that stands today.
Total 2023 container volumes have surpassed 2.5 million TEU through August, reaching 2,510,162 TEU and down just 4 per cent compared to last year.
Loaded export volumes at Port Houston are up 10 per cent YTD, 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 per cent share.
Loaded import volumes are down 7 per cent YTD. Combined loaded volume is flat for the 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.
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 per cent through August at 33.8 short tonnes. Steel is down 14 per cent YTD, totalling 3.2 tonnes. Auto import units, however, have increased by 50 per cent YTD compared to the same time period in 2022.