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Port Houston sees huge bump in steel cargo

Three new neo-Panamax cranes arrive at the port's Bayport Container Terminal

The $36.5 million cranes arrived Tuesday at the port's Bayport Container Terminal after traveling 15,904 nautical miles during a 60-day journey from Shanghai to Houston. (Photo: Port Houston)

Port Houston’s steel cargo exports recorded a 1,874% year-over-year increase in January to 21,992 tons.

Imports of steel at the port recorded a 176% year-over-year increase to 440,883 tons. The year-over-year increased demand is part of the global steel industry’s rebound in construction and manufacturing. 

General imports during January increased by 61% year-over-year to 668,126 tons, and container imports increased 22% to 2.5 million tons.

Port Houston also moved a total of 323,427 twenty-foot equivalent units in January, a 27% increase from the same year-ago period. 

Loaded container TEU imports rose 30% year-over-year to 158,569, while loaded container exports declined 13% to 86,940 TEUs.

Empty export container TEUs rose 211% year-over-year to 73,181. Empty import container TEUs fell 54% to 4,737.


Port Houston had 698 vessel calls in January, a 10% year-over-year increase compared to 2021. The port also had a 28% year-over-year increase in barges for the month of January, with 398 vessels.

Port Houston also received three new neo-Panamax ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, increasing its equipment fleet to 28 STS cranes and 110 rubber-tired gantry cranes.

The $36.5 million cranes arrived Tuesday at the port’s Bayport Container Terminal after traveling 15,904 nautical miles during a 60-day journey from Shanghai to Houston.

The cranes were manufactured by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. and were transported by the Zhen Hua 25, a large specialized heavy-load carrier vessel.

Roger Guenther, Port Houston’s executive director, said the three STS cranes are the largest at the port. They are expected to be operational by June.

“The purchase and installation of these cranes represents a significant infrastructure investment for Port Houston, which will benefit our customers and partners, as well as the Texas economy,” Guenther said in a statement. “These cranes will facilitate working 15,000-TEU-sized vessels anticipated to call our terminals upon completion of the Houston Ship Channel Expansion — Project 11.”

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]