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.

Port Houston has also become a gateway for the importation and distribution of finished vehicles. The Bayport Auto Terminal opened for business at the Port of Houston in 2016.

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.  


07 Aug 2019
The latest upgrade work at the port of Houston’s Barbours Cut Terminal that will enable the facility to handle rapidly growing cargo volumes received the backing of Port of Houston Authority, which agreed to spend $39.7 million on the project.
CBP inspections have uncovered a rash of properly treated and stamped shipments of inbound wood packaging materials (WPM) cargo that nonetheless harbored dangerous wood-boring beetles.
25 Jul 2019
Violations of ISPM 15, which maintains strict guidelines for treatment of all wood packaging materials (WPM) to prevent the accidental introduction of invasive pests, can result in the re-exportation of entire shipments of goods and large fines, even if importers and carriers have followed the regulations to the best of their abilities.
18 Jul 2019
Sponsored: Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther on the link between 2018 growth and the port's infrastructure investments, as well as regional economic factors at play.
10 Jul 2019
The Port of Houston will get its first route to Costa Rica in a new service linking the port to the Mediterranean, Central America and the Caribbean, taking the total number of services that call at the port to 22, once two new 2M services to the Far East begin in August.
27 Jun 2019
Private businesses that would benefit from a project to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel could speed its completion by helping fund the $1 billion project, officials said.
17 Jun 2019
The governor of Texas has signed a law that would prohibit ships over 9,500 TEU from entering the Port of Houston channel unless the Board of Pilots grants approval, raising questions over the port’s ability to handle future growth.
13 Jun 2019
Frontier Logistics has broken ground on a massive resin warehouse project at North Charleston’s former U.S. Navy base, a sign resin exports from the US show no signs of slowing anytime soon.
22 May 2019
The Port of Houston is using soon-to-be-signed legislation limiting vessel sizes on its ship channel as motivation to expedite a widening project that will enable 13,000-TEU ships to access the port in four to five years.
21 May 2019
The Texas Legislature’s House of Representatives on Friday approved legislation that would prohibit ships of 9,500 TEU or greater from entering the channel without prior approval from the port pilots’ board.
20 May 2019
Texas lawmakers have backed legislation that limit vessels in the channel that leads to the Port of Houston to 1,100 feet, unless port pilots say that such a mega-vessel can safely and efficiently move up the channel in two way traffic.
06 May 2019
Shippers that import and export goods through the Port of Houston are being urged to contact legislators and express opposition to two bills that would limit mega-ship calls at the port to one a week.
30 Apr 2019
Non-container vessel operators and users say the increasing size of container ships, and the narrowness of the channel, means that other ships are sometimes restricted from using the channel because container ships are so large no other vessel can occupy the channel.
22 Apr 2019
While the Port of Houston Authority ruled that only one container vessel larger than 9,500 TEU could traverse the port channel each week, the authority argues that enshrining the limit into law could have sweeping consequences that would damage the port economy.
12 Apr 2019
Resin industry and other exporters are bracing for the impact of a new Port of Houston regulation limiting mega-ship transport on the port’s main channel to one a week.
03 Apr 2019
After a few false starts, producers and transportation providers are preparing for a surge in US exports of resins in 2019 and beyond.
29 Mar 2019
As exports from the region waned, expansion of all-water services from Asia and a boom in import distribution facilities contributed to double-digit growth in imports to US Gulf ports last year.
12 Mar 2019
Dallas cargo owners will lose a rail option to Houston in late April
15 Feb 2019
Import demand growth in the region is improving prospects for already strong exports of petrochemical, agricultural, and forest products, which had previously been limited by a shortage of empty containers.
A wind farm in the United States.
30 Jan 2019
Several US ports, many in the Gulf, are expecting a surge in wind cargo during the next 24 months.
A petrochemical plant.
30 Jan 2019
The US petrochemical buildout is being driven by the availability of cheap ethane.
port of Savannah.
18 Jan 2019
A slew of upgrades, efficiency improvements, and new services are all aimed at boosting business.
Industrial Terminals Houston.
18 Jan 2019
Oaktree, primary shareholder of now-insolvent Hansa Heavy Lift, in January became a key partner with Kansas-based transportation provider Watco Companies.
A truck with cargo at the Port of Los Angeles.
20 Dec 2018
As the initial experience indicates, North American port extended gates adoption, despite increasing container volume and truck congestion, is coming in fits and starts.
Port Houston
15 Nov 2018
Imports are important to Gulf ports’ growth because ocean carriers in the major east-west trades deploy capacity based on imports, which command freight rates about four times higher than exports.
Port Houston.
14 Nov 2018
In its decision, the port also offered information regarding what it would need to see to resume the program.
A resin plant in the United States.
16 Oct 2018
Last year, a hurricane stalled resin exports from the Gulf Coast. This year, rising trade tension between the US and China threatens one of resin’s largest markets.
A chemical plant.
09 Aug 2018
US chemical producers knew a sector boom would create logistics challenges. But what they did not anticipate was other growing sectors putting extreme pressure on US trucking as well, with a huge spillover to intermodal rail.
16 May 2018
Sponsored: At the 2018 TPM, John Moseley, Port Houston senior director of sales, discuss the potential impact of population growth, resin business expansion, and blockchain viability for the shipping industry. 
Cranes at Port Houston.
18 Apr 2018
Analysts at 3rd Annual JOC Gulf Shipping Conference in Houston see US Gulf imports increasing 8 percent this year, while exports should rise 2 percent, assuming no trade war occurs. Further, Gulf exports could exceed forecasts, if the long-delayed boom in exports of synthetic resins from the region materializes soon.
Intermodal Yard, Port of New Orleans.
13 Apr 2018
Without the delays of the nation’s other coasts, and with a growing population and the desire of companies to place inventory closer to customers, the US Gulf region’s ports have a competitive edge and are poised for business wins.
Resin plant at sunset.
29 Mar 2018
The long-delayed boom in plastic resin exports is forecast to finally arrive this year, sector officials say, and a second wave is likely by 2022. That is expected to create opportunities for ports on all three US seacoasts, but it will also stress port, truck, and intermodal rail operations.
Port of Houston.
10 Feb 2018
With the long-awaited boom in US production of synthetic resins expected to finally materialize this year, shippers are urging carriers to add more services from the Gulf to Asia. But will ocean carriers respond?
Port of Los Angeles.
09 Feb 2018
After a substantial gain in 2017, retailers are forecasting another increase in US container import volume in 2018, as container lines and beneficial cargo owners prepare for annual trans-Pacific rate and service contract negotiations.
Resin demand was expected to uptrend in 2017; that growth should appear this year.
02 Feb 2018
The factors that delayed resin export growth from the United States are largely transitory and the long-term thesis for increases remains intact, experts argue.
15 Dec 2017
Petrochemical producers have invested tens of billions of dollars into Gulf Coast plants that are starting to enter production and that are expected to substantially boost annual US resin exports.
20 Nov 2017
US Gulf ports’ share of the nation’s container trade has been inching up for several years.