Port Houston reported mixed results in November as containerized imports through the Gulf Coast’s busiest port fall.
Import volumes softened to 137,631 TEUs in November, a 16% decline compared to last year and an 8% decline year to date. The decline comes as U.S. East and Gulf ports are starting to feel the impact of drought-driven transit restrictions in the Panama Canal. Data recently released by Descartes shows total U.S. container imports up more than 7% in November.
After experiencing its best month ever for loaded exports in October, Port Houston saw a 2% decrease in loaded exports in November compared to the same month last year. However, loaded exports have remained strong in 2023, with a 9% increase for the year. Houston’s exports are driven by the demand for resins and petrochemical commodities produced in the region.
Through November, Port Houston has handled nearly 3.5 million TEUs, which is a 5% decrease compared to last year’s record volumes.
Port Houston last month celebrated the arrival of the CMA CGM Lisa Marie, one of the largest vessels to call at the Bayport Container Terminal. The ship has a capacity of nearly 11,000 TEUs. Port Houston handled it with five STS cranes, completing 4,974 moves in under two days.
“At Port Houston, we are always preparing for upcoming growth and this recent vessel call perfectly represents what the future holds for our facility,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston. “As we continue to expand the Houston Ship Channel we will be able to accommodate larger vessels in the very near future. We are also adding wharf and yard capacity at our container terminals, so we are well-equipped to continue to help drive the growth of our entire region.”
Elsewhere at Port Houston, general cargo has decreased by 20% this year, primarily due to declines in coal, grain, and plywood. Steel volumes have also decreased by 13% year-to-date through November. However, there has been a significant increase in demand for auto imports, which have risen by 67% compared to the same period in 2022. Overall, the total tonnage through Port Houston terminals has decreased by 9% through November, amounting to 46,196,305 short tons.
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