Gulf Coast ports show mixed cargo results in March

Cargo flow slipped slightly at ports in Houston and New Orleans in March but rose at the Port of Corpus Christi due to increased exports.

Port Houston sees decline in monthly containers 

Port Houston’s total container volume dipped 3% year over year (y/y) in March to 300,589 twenty-foot equivalent units compared to the same month last year.

Port officials said there was a nationwide softening of import containers in March.

“We continue to see the softening of import demand across the U.S. and in Houston as well, where loaded import container TEUs at Port Houston’s terminals were down 12% in March,” said Roger Guenther, the port’s executive director. “However, total throughput is offset by the strong export market we have in Houston.”

Port Houston saw a rise in loaded export containers in March, recording a 10% y/y increase and the highest monthly volume for that category in its history, the port said.

Loaded export volumes at Port Houston reached 349,964 TEUs year to date in March, a 26% y/y increase of 26% in the first quarter compared to last year. Empty import volumes also increased by 111% for the month compared to March 2022, as carriers reposition containers to Houston to meet the high demand for resin and petrochemical exports, the port said.

Port Houston’s Bayport Container Terminal is preparing for the arrival of three new STS cranes and the completion of Wharf 6 by the end of the year. Port Houston’s Barbours Cut Container Terminal is also undergoing improvements, with seven new RTGs arriving this November and seven in January 2024.

Port of Corpus Christi sees strong crude oil, dry bulk exports

The Port of Corpus Christi saw a 14% y/y increase in total cargo to 17.5 million tons in March, led by exports of crude oil, petroleum and liquid bulk cargo. 

The port handled 10.8 million total tons of crude during the month, a 26% increase compared to the same year-ago period. Exports of crude oil for March topped 10.1 million tons, a 25% increase over last year.

Shipments of petroleum totaled 5.4 million tons during March, a 6% y/y increase. Exports of petroleum were at 4.3 million tons for the month, a 2% y/y increase.

Liquid bulk shipments increased more than 2,100% to 133,873 tons in March, compared to the same period last year.

Dry bulk cargo decreased about 15% y/y to 741,005 tons in March, while bulk grain shipments fell 60% y/y to 147,598 tons.

The port had 671 ship and barge calls in March, an 18% y/y increase from the same month last year.

Port of New Orleans sees uptick in container shipments

The Port of New Orleans reported a 4% y/y increase in container volume in March with 36,536 TEUs.

The port recorded a 38% y/y decline in total breakbulk tonnage at 156,023 short tons during the month.

“We are seeing steady containerized cargo exports and breakbulk imports with some dry bulk cargo as well,” Kimberly Curth, the port’s spokeswoman, told FreightWaves. “The top containerized commodities were plastic resins, chemicals and coffee; and breakbulk was steel and rubber.”

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