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Port Houston sets container record in August

Houston surpasses 2 million-TEU mark; Corpus Christi moved 16M tons of cargo in August

Port Houston handled 382,842 twenty-foot equivalent units in August. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Texas Gulf Coast ports got a boost in August from imports of steel and exports of crude oil and petroleum products.

Port Houston sets another monthly TEU record

For the second time this year, Port Houston hit a record for monthly container volumes, handling 382,842 twenty-foot equivalent units in August. That surpassed the previous monthly record for containers set in May, when the port handled 335,000 TEUs.

The monthly total for August was also a 20% year-over-year (y/y) increase compared to the same period last year. The growth seen at Port Houston outpaces that of other major U.S. container ports, Port Houston said in a news release.

The National Retail Federation’s Global Port Tracker recently reported that through July, import volume is up 21% at Port Houston but only 4% overall in the U.S.

“Port Houston is committed to meeting the challenge of historic cargo demand,” Roger Guenther, the port’s executive director, said in a statement. “We are investing in people and infrastructure to meet our customers’ needs. We are expediting the development of container yard space and wharves, and are adding equipment like ship-to-shore cranes and rubber-tired gantry cranes to maintain efficiency as we expand terminal capacity.”

The port continues to be bolstered by strong volumes of steel imports, registering 480,087 tons in August, a 42% y/y increase and an 81% year-do-date increase compared to 2021.

Port officials have said the increase in steel imports is due to expanding demand for oil country tubular goods and other steel products from oil drilling operations across the United States. Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes reports there were 765 active oil rigs in the U.S. as of Friday, a 50% increase from 2021.

Steel exports from Port Houston declined 361% y/y in August and saw a month-to-month decrease of 886% from July for a negative value of 17,059 tons.

Total tonnage at Port Houston’s facilities is up 24% year-to-date through August. Total import tonnage was over 3 million tons in August, a 17% y/y increase and 8% month-to-month increase compared to July. Total export tonnage was 2.6 million tons, an 18% y/y increase and 6% increase from July.

Along with steel, auto import tonnage recorded strong volumes, posting a 50% y/y increase in August, but down 9% year-to-date compared to 2021.

Loaded container TEU imports in August rose 13% y/y to 180,132, while loaded container exports for the month increased 36% to 116,841 TEUs.

Empty export container TEUs increased 18% y/y to 78,094. Empty import container TEUs fell 10% y/y to 7,775 TEUs.

Port Houston recorded 729 total ship calls in August, a 15% y/y increase from the same period last year, and 176 barge calls, a 50% y/y decline compared to 2021.

Guenther said dwell time has been a challenge at Port Houston’s Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals, with import dwell time at about six days, compared to three days during the same period last year.

In June, Port Houston implemented Saturday gate hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals to help dwell time and cargo flow. In addition, the port is exploring an excessive-dwell fee leveraged on containers that stay at the terminal longer than the free time outlined in the tariff.

“We are asking our customers to take advantage of these additional Saturday hours of service, pull your containers quickly, and consider adapting procedures to work with us toward the common end goal of efficiency throughout the supply chain,” Guenther said.

Port of Corpus Christi exports more crude oil, petroleum products

The Port of Corpus Christi moved 16.1 million tons of cargo in August, a 10% y/y increase from the same month in 2021.

Total shipments of crude oil totaled 9.2 million tons, of which 8.3 million tons were exports, during August. Exports of crude oil saw a 6% increase from the same month last year.

The port also handled 5.5 million tons of petroleum during August, an 8% increase from the same year-ago period. Exports of petroleum for the month topped 4.2 million tons, a 1.4% increase from the same period last year.

Dry bulk cargo increased 68% y/y to 835,883 tons, while chemical cargo volumes totaled 280,383 tons in August, a 15% y/y increase from 2021. Exports of chemical products from the port totaled 266,502 tons in August.

The Port of Corpus Christi had 714 ship calls for the month, including 73 dry bulk cargo barges, 440 liquid cargo barges and 200 cargo ships. It was a 17% y/y increase in ship calls compared to last year.

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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 Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]