Port Houston container volumes near record level

Port Houston’s container activity rose again in December, pushing the level of TEUs for the year high enough to virtually match the level set in 2019, which was a record year.


Port Houston handled 4% more containers this December compared to last, recording 264,626 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), compared to 253,830 TEUs in December of last year. For the 2020 year overall, Port Houston handled 2,989,347 TEUs, compared to 2,990,175 TEUs in 2019.

December marked the second-highest month ever for loaded imports, with 126,771 TEUs handled, a 26% jump over December 2019. That activity was just behind the level recorded in October of this year.

These high levels of cargo activity were reached despite the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global commerce. Cargo began slowing worldwide in March and continued through the summer. Imports began improving toward the end of the year.

“We are proud to keep the supply chain moving and help move goods to consumers. People need the items that arrive through our docks, like medical supplies and food, as well as e- commerce goods for their home,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director. “Given the challenging 2020 we all had, we are grateful to our entire team for continuing to provide world- class service to our customers so Houstonians and others in the region get the essentials they need.”

As 2021 kicks off, Guenther is optimistic that the rebound in container volumes underway at Port Houston will continue. Port Houston projections for this year indicate additional growth. To support the growing customer base, Port Houston continues to expand, investing in infrastructure and labor.

Total cargo was down 4% for the year overall in 2020, mainly attributed to a decreased demand for oil country tubular goods or “OCTG” in the form of steel pipe for the energy sector. Grain and bulk cargoes were up year-over-year, but steel and autos were down.

Port Houston is the sixth largest container port in the United States and is the dominant container port on the U.S. Gulf Coast, handling more than two-thirds of all the containers in the gulf.

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