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.
23 Dec 2020
Unprecedented trans-Pacific volumes and steadily growing exports of petrochemicals, agricultural products, and resins have prompted members of THE Alliance to launch a new direct service between Asia and the US Gulf.
30 Nov 2020
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on demand in the United States and the Caribbean and Central America caused two-way trade between the regions to contract in the first nine months of 2020.
02 Nov 2020
The busiest US Gulf Coast ports saw only a small decline in throughput during the first seven months of the year despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer demand in the US and abroad.
04 Jun 2020
All 10 of the busiest US cargo ports registered declines in container volumes in early 2020, with only modest improvement forecasted for the second half of the year due to a muted peak season.
29 May 2020
The main concern for US resin producers in 2019 was an increase in Chinese import tariffs, but that has been overshadowed by macro-economic concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
26 May 2020
Increased import tariffs on Chinese-made toys in 2019 caused some shippers to shift sourcing to Vietnam, accelerating the diversion of those cargoes from Los Angeles and Long Beach to ports on the East and Gulf coasts.
21 May 2020
The savings afforded by the safe harbor tax credit has US solar energy developers rethinking traditional project logistics processes, purchasing and importing materials much earlier in the construction cycle.
04 May 2020
The years-long market share bleed from North America’s traditional West Coast container gateways continued in 2019, with Savannah, Houston and Prince Rupert the main beneficiaries.
24 Apr 2020
The need to widen the channel gained urgency last year when a group of non-container businesses that rely on the port expressed concerns their cargoes would be squeezed by the increasing size and number of container ships moving through Houston.
24 Apr 2020
A new international distribution center in Houston blends US trucking and containerized imports as less-than-truckload carrier Averitt reaches deeper into US consumer markets.
14 Apr 2020
The strong growth in US resin exports of the last two years could falter in 2020 as overseas production gets cheaper due to the fall in oil prices and demand weakens amid the global recessionary pressures from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
13 Apr 2020
The ports of Houston, Mobile, and New Orleans will likely find the strong growth they enjoyed in 2019 difficult to replicate this year as US ports confront the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on supply chains.
20 Mar 2020
Workers at ports, warehouses, and trucking companies are receiving exemptions from state “stay-at-home” mandates because they are judged as essential to the US supply chain.
19 Mar 2020
The 23-hour shutdown of two Houston container terminals spotlighted a potential new risk of disruption for all ports as they already face the possibility of coronavirus-related supply chain disruptions such as blank sailings, an excess of containers, and cargo surges.
21 Feb 2020
The Port of Houston says a group of non-container stakeholders should revise its plan for the authority to float a $500 million bond for the project to widen the port channel, saying that under the plan the port would then be responsible if payments were not made.
Houston gets $21.8 million federal grant for terminal expansion
14 Feb 2020
The Port of Houston has been awarded a $21.8 million federal grant to help fund the extension of a berth at the Bayport Container Terminal.
29 Jan 2020
Advancing the project to widen its shipping channel is the top priority for the Port of Houston in 2020 as it faces rapidly growing cargo volumes.
07 Jan 2020
US Department of Transportation grants totaling $1.7 million have been awarded to Gulf Coast projects that aim to reduce truck traffic by moving containers -- often filled with resin -- by barge through the ports of New Orleans and Houston.
02 Jan 2020
Volume growth at US Gulf Coast ports easily outpaced both the East and West Coasts in 2019, albeit from a smaller base, and port officials expect another strong year in 2020.
19 Nov 2019
The acquisition of Emergent Cold gives US-based Lineage Logistics greater access to Asian markets and facilities at three US ports.
US steel imports increasing despite tariffs, quotas
28 Oct 2019
With imports on the rise, domestic US steel prices are rolling downhill in 2019 and analysts expect that trend to continue well into next year.
25 Sep 2019
The Port of Houston is looking for industry and public support as it tries to accelerate the pace of a project to widen the Houston Ship Channel amid growing cargo volumes.
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.