Port Houston Container Volume Recedes Slightly From 2022 Record

Although full-year cargo volumes at the Port of Houston were down 4 percent from 2022’s record levels, the port ended the year on a high note with container twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) up 11 percent for December compared to the same month a year ago.

In addition, December 2023 was the biggest December on record for loaded exports, which were also up 11 percent, totaling 119,970 TEUs. Loaded imports increased 11 percent for the month compared to the previous December, with the port handling 150,648 TEUs.

For the full year, cargo volumes handled at Port Houston’s two container terminals totaled 3,824,600 TEUs. The port attributed the decrease from 2022 mostly to a large drop in empty repositioning volumes. Houston remained insulated against any major decrease in volumes by its strong exports, which thrived in 2023 and were driven largely by the demand for resin, the port said.

“At Port Houston, 2023 was another remarkable year, and we were pleased to end the year so strong,” said Roger Guenther, executive director of Port Houston. “As we begin 2024, our eye is on making continued strategic investments to facilitate larger vessels and more of our region’s cargo. We are adding important landside capacity at our two container terminals and making good progress on the Houston Ship Channel Expansion, which is known as Project 11.”

Expansion of the Houston Ship Channel to Bayport Container Terminal is expected to be complete later this year, with the portion to Barbours Cut Container Terminal to follow in 2026.

In December, seven new hybrid-electric rubber tire gantry (RTG) cranes were added to the port’s existing fleet of 116 RTGs at its container terminals. Port Houston is scheduled to receive an additional 19 RTGs and three ship to shore (STS) cranes in 2024. The new equipment will help facilitate cargo movement for the more than 20 weekly services that currently call Port Houston. In addition, a new weekly service, ZIM Gulf Toucan, is starting later this month and is scheduled to call the Barbours Cut Container Terminal, the port said.

At Port Houston’s multipurpose facilities, 2023 saw declines of 23 percent in general cargo and 14 percent in steel volumes as compared to 2022. Steel is expected to remain stable throughout 2024 due to ongoing infrastructure and energy investments.