Port of Houston

Port of Houston

The Port of Houston is the major container gateway for Texas, and the 100 million people who live between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. It handles about two-thirds of all the containerized cargo in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Servicing all major trading lanes, Houston offers shippers direct connections by highways (Interstates to both east and west coasts; and northwards to the midwest) and railways connecting Texas to the southeast, the midwest and the southwest. Mexico is the Greater Houston region’s top foreign trading partner, followed by China, Brazil, the Netherlands and South Korea.

Houston has long been considered the capital of virtually every segment of the US energy industry, including exploration, production, transmission, marketing, supply, and technology. As a result, the Port of Houston is a major gateway for US trade in petroleum products such as petrochemical resins used by industry. Texas also produces more cotton than any other state, and the city has long been a center of the cotton trade.

The Port of Houston’s two container-handling facilities are port-owned and operated. Barbours Cut Container Terminal, located at the mouth of Galveston Bay, is 3.5 hours sailing time to open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Its six berths provide 6,000 feet of continuous quay. The facility also includes a roll-on/roll-off platform, a LASH dock, over 200 acres of paved marshaling area and over 250,000 square feet of warehouse space. Intermodal rail service is available via the 42-acre near-dock rail ramp with working tracks and spurs connecting terminal warehouses.

Bayport Container Terminal, when fully developed, will have a total of seven container berths with the capacity to handle 2.3 million TEUs on a complex which includes 376 acres of container yard and a 123-acre intermodal facility. The terminal features electronic data interchange capabilities and a computerized inventory control system that tracks the status and location of individual containers.

The Port of Houston’s rail facility is located near the Barbours Cut Container Terminal dock. The primary railroad companies are BNSF, Union Pacific, and the PTRA (Port Terminal Railroad Association), which provides access to the industries along the Houston Ship Channel for railroads entering Houston. Straddling both sides of the Channel, PTRA services more than 200 local customers from 7 serving yards, while maintaining more than 150 miles of track and 20 bridges.

A surge in oil and gas drilling in West Texas has created a steady stream of cheap natural gas liquids to turn into feedstocks for plastics, building materials and consumer goods. Major Houston-area producers are investing billions of dollars in their local facilities to meet growing demand from Asia and South America.  


30 Nov 2022
The Port of Houston, citing technology problems, is postponing the start date of a new fee that would penalize shippers who don’t retrieve import containers after the allowable free time.
01 Nov 2022
The Gulf Coast ports of Houston and Mobile are the fastest and third-fastest growing gateways for US imports of Asian goods as shippers look to diversify away from the West Coast, regardless of the outcome of longshore labor talks.
27 Oct 2022
The move to impose fees on long-dwelling containers comes as the import backlog at Port Houston has created truck queues outside its terminals and increased turn times for drivers.
18 Oct 2022
CMA CGM is adding a new South America-US Gulf service that aims to restore some of the capacity lost on that trade lane due to cutbacks over the past year.
17 Oct 2022
Breakbulk tonnage has risen at Port Houston’s City Docks facility after the global oil price shock linked to the Russia–Ukraine war prompted an increase in active oil rigs in Texas.
06 Oct 2022
The Port of Houston is weighing whether to hit shippers with an additional fee if they let their import containers dwell for excessively long periods as terminal space remains tight.
03 Oct 2022
US cold-chain cargoes fell more than 20 percent through May as the combination of high freight rates, poor reliability of ocean carrier service, and lack of equipment took a toll on foodstuff freight.
23 Aug 2022
Shippers who move cargo through Houston say more needs to be done to address how exports are handled in the face of surging import volumes that have also sucked up truck, yard, and chassis capacity.
05 Jul 2022
US East Coast ports anticipate a busy third quarter and are bracing now to handle the volume with off-dock storage of long-dwelling imports and empty containers to keep cargo flowing smoothly.
21 Jun 2022
Mediterranean Shipping Co. is bringing a new Asia service to the US Gulf and East coasts and revamping two other trans-Pacific services with additional calls amid slowing, but still growing, imports from Asia.
16 Jun 2022
The US Department of Agriculture plans to help fund additional chassis for reefer cargo at the Port of Houston and to subsidize dray moves to a Port of Tacoma pop-up yard.
10 Jun 2022
The Port of Houston is trying to expedite a $1 billion dredging project as an ongoing surge in containerized freight shows the need for more capacity at the Gulf Coast’s busiest port.
03 Jun 2022
The Port of Houston’s two container terminals will be open on Saturdays through at least the rest of 2022 as an import wave continues to tie up capacity at the gateway.
17 May 2022
Amid supply chain gridlock throughout the US, the Port of Houston has signed an agreement to investigate the potential use of an electric rail shuttle system for inland container movement.
09 May 2022
Only four of the JOC Top 25 North American Container Ports handled fewer imports in 2021, but growth at major West Coast gateways lagged that of their East Coast competitors, resulting in a shift in market share.
15 Apr 2022
Ocean carriers say they have swept more of the empty containers that have plagued truckers who have had to make extra trips further away from ports to store the boxes.
13 Apr 2022
The sharp growth in container volumes at the ports of Houston and Mobile is spurring increasing demand to move freight via rail as truckers hit the limit on how much they can handle.
18 Mar 2022
Rebounding steel and project cargo volumes and a congested container market that continues to push both cargo and containers to the breakbulk mode are driving strong growth at the key Gulf Coast ports.
10 Feb 2022
Maersk introduced a new vessel service from Asia that will call on the US Gulf and East Coast and plans to provide its first direct service from Indonesia to the US.
10 Feb 2022
US resin exporters are finding a much tougher shipping market to start 2022 as export gateways deal with unreliable vessel schedules and tight capacity.
02 Feb 2022
With imports rising along the US Gulf Coast as shippers seek an alternative to congested West Coast ports, warehousing and distribution capacity in the Gulf region is growing as a result.
13 Jan 2022
Houston is seeing a surge in imports thanks to the upsizing of vessel services from Asia as other Gulf Coast ports look for a similar uplift.
27 Dec 2021
The Port of Long Beach’s project to move over one-third of its container volumes to rail received a boost from the US Department of Transportation through a $52 million grant.
13 Dec 2021
The US Department of Transportation funds barge projects along the US East and Gulf coasts that aim to shift freight from highways to coastal and inland waterways.
11 Nov 2021
Strong growth in imports and a slight decline in exports over the past few years have thrown off the once balanced import-export flow in the US Gulf Coast, exposing Houston to the same terminal space issues and equipment imbalances that have plagued other import-dependent ports in 2021
26 Oct 2021
Despite a drop in total US containerized resin exports during the first seven months of 2021, volumes through Charleston, Virginia, and Savannah increased thanks to new packaging plants in those areas.
13 Aug 2021
Although US imports from Asia have returned to single-digit growth after 11 consecutive months of double-digit increases, the cargo base is so large that even incremental growth this peak season will result in record import volumes.
09 Aug 2021
Texas Governor Greg Abbott will extend for another 30 days a waiver that allows truckers to exceed federally regulated service hours as the Port of Houston deals with heavy cargo volumes.
28 Jul 2021
The Port of Houston’s two container terminals are expected to reopen tomorrow after software and hardware outages forced the closure of the gates.
27 Jul 2021
The reopening of the US and European economies after last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns spurred a resurgence in the trans-Atlantic container trade as business activity in two of the world’s largest economies showed better than expected growth in May, with increases concentrated at US ports that have undergone major expansions.
30 Jun 2021
Houston pilots said they will allow larger ships to transit the ship channel in a nod to ease a restriction that was seen as falling unfairly on the container shipping industry.
15 Jun 2021
An expected increase in resin exports out of Houston and other Gulf Coast gateways appears to be taking longer than expected as resin producers seek to supply domestic customers first.
20 Apr 2021
A new all-water service from Asia will boost the volume of imports flowing into the US Gulf Coast amid an ongoing boom in regional import distribution capacity.
26 Jan 2021
National Shipping of America (NSA) made its inaugural call to Port Everglades last week after the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) designated the South Florida port as part of the country’s so-called Marine Highway system on Jan. 8.
07 Jan 2021
Federal Maritime Commissioner Carl Bentzel is looking into ways that Houston could handle larger vessels before a widening project is complete, given a Texas law that puts size limits on port calls.
04 Jan 2021
Expecting a return to volume growth, the ports of Houston and New Orleans are dredging and enhancing terminals to allow calls from larger vessels, while Tampa Bay will add capacity through new truck gates and additional gantry cranes, among other projects.