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Port Houston volume jumps 30% year-over-year in May

$36M contract awarded for 3 cranes as part of terminal expansion

Port Houston recently awarded a $36 million contract to Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. for three dockside electric container cranes for Wharf No. 6 at Bayport Container Terminal. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Port Houston handled 288,127 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, a 30% increase compared to the same month in 2020.

“Cargo means jobs,” Ric Campo, chairman of the Port of Houston Authority, said at the port commission meeting Tuesday.

“People need their stuff. Somebody’s revenue is somebody else’s expense. All those expenses go to jobs,” Campo said. “Without revenue, you have no jobs.” 

Top imports at the largest port on the Gulf Coast in May included steel, auto supplies, bagged goods, lumber, machinery, plywood and bagged foods.

Roger Guenther, executive director of Port Houston, said port volume is up 8% year-to-date compared to the previous year.

“May of last year was down, but overall it’s been a great year-to-date. Container terminals are up 8% over last year already with a total of over 1.3 million TEUs so far,” Guenther said during the commission meeting. 

Guenther said June started strong for the port. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal had a record gate move day last week with nearly 5,000 transactions.

“That’s being driven by a new service that started a little over a week ago,” Guenther said, referring to THE Alliance’s EC6 direct trans-Pacific Asian service. The ONE Modern, the vessel deployed on the EC6 service calling Port Houston, can carry about 7,000 TEUs.

“The ONE Modern had more than 5,500 vessel lifts on that first call of that new service,” Guenther said. “The demand is still here, the demand is growing, ships are getting bigger.” 

The Bayport Container Terminal also had a record day in early June, recording 8,600 transactions. 

“We are seeing 11,000 gate transactions between the two container terminals every day, which is well above the average that we’ve been seeing for the past year,” Guenther said. “The good thing is we’re able to efficiently handle those with a great labor force, a great operational force —  truckers, stevedores and everybody — to maintain efficient service levels while this is happening.”

In other port business, officials awarded a $36.5 million contract to Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. (ZPMC) for three dockside electric container cranes for Wharf No. 6 at Bayport Container Terminal.

The electric container cranes are one of the last pieces of a $200 million expansion plan for Wharf No. 6, officials said.

“It takes a few years to plan and build this type of facility. You have to have this ready in advance of the demand, which we know is coming quite rapidly,” Guenther said. “It’s very important to make sure that we have the capacity that when our carriers want to increase the volume, which they are doing at a very rapid pace, that we’re prepared to handle that efficiently.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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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]