October was the biggest month ever for loaded exports at Port Houston, up 6% compared to last October. Port Houston’s loaded exports are up 10% year-to-date, reaching 1,151,638 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) through October 2023. These exports are primarily resins and chemicals. Port Houston is the top resins port in the nation as well as home to North America’s largest petrochemical cluster.
Loaded import volumes at Port Houston in October were down 4% compared to last October and are down 7% for the year as compared to last year. Compared to pre-pandemic volumes, however, total container imports are up 32% through October compared to the same period in 2019. Total container volumes for the first ten months of this year total 3,201,958 TEUs – a slight decrease of 4% compared to last year’s record volumes.
As a marine terminal operator, Port Houston remains focused on efficiency through both the Bayport and Barbours Cut Container Terminals. Recently, the first vessel docked at the newly completed Wharf 6 at Port Houston's Bayport Container Terminal. With the addition of this berth, equipped with three of the latest generation of Neo-Panamax ship to shore (STS) cranes, Port Houston is focused on adding capacity for enhanced terminal fluidity to benefit both import and export customers who rely on Port Houston’s two container terminals as their primary gateway.
“We are excited to announce the arrival of the first vessel at our newest wharf, which symbolizes a bright future for the Port and the culmination of more than five years of planning,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston. “This addition was a significant infrastructure investment and demonstrates our commitment to creating a dependable and efficient terminal environment for our customers.” Bayport Wharf 7 is slated to be commissioned in 2025, the same year reconstruction of Barbours Cut Wharves 5 and 6 will be completed. On the water side, expansion of the channel to Bayport is expected to be completed in 2024 with Barbours Cut to follow in 2026. These channel expansions will allow safe, unrestricted navigation of 14,000 – 15,000 TEU class Neo-Panamax ships.
Total tonnage through Port Houston is down 7% year-to-date compared to 2022, at 42,421,735 short tons. Steel volumes are down 13% this year through October. Auto import units increased this month, up 50% in October 2023 compared to October 2022.