The amount of cargo handled at Port Houston was up 7 percent through the first two months of 2018, signaling another strong year, Executive Director Roger Guenther announced Tuesday.

Through February, Port Houston terminals handled 6.1 million tons of cargo, which Guenther called an encouraging start for this year. He made the remarks at the March meeting of the Port Commission.

Port Houston Cargo Tonnage Up 7 Percent in 2018
Caption: Houston Ship Channel

“We are off and running, a quarter of the way through another busy year, and port facilities are seeing tremendous activity and delivering solid results,” Guenther told attendees at the commission meeting.

Those results include a noteworthy uptick in steel imports, which were up 17 percent in January and February. Although steel tariffs went into effect in mid-March, exemptions have been granted for many countries that import steel, and steel volumes at Port Houston continue to look strong.

Container activity is up nearly 1 percent for the first two months, despite being compared to 2017, a year where substantial container volume increases were recorded, the executive director noted. While container exports have been less than expected so far, the increased production of resins resulting from the expansion of facilities along the Houston Ship Channel is beginning to materialize and an upward trend is anticipated for the remainder of the year.

Port Houston in 2017 was the fastest-growing of the top 10 container ports in the United States, based on PIERS data.

Port Commissioners Tuesday approved investments to handle future demand of general cargo and container facilities, including design for rehabilitation and repair of Dock 9 at the Turning Basin Terminal and the purchase of eight rubber-tired-gantry cranes at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard presented Port Houston the 2018 Rear Admiral Richard E. Bennis Award, Port Authority category. The presentation was made by Rear Admiral John Nadeau, who highlighted the work done by Port Houston staff to keep the nation’s vital marine transportation system moving, particularly after Hurricane Harvey. Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria thanked him and lauded members of the Port Security and emergency operations team for their efforts in achieving the award.

The chairman also noted Tuesday that Commissioners Theldon Branch, Stephen DonCarlos and John D. Kennedy were reappointed to additional two-year terms on the Port Commission.

Source: Port of Houston