Steel, petroleum and plywood boost cargo volumes from Gulf Coast ports in March
Gulf Coast ports were boosted in March by steel and plywood imports and oil and crude oil exports.
Port Houston sees gains in steel and general freight
Port Houston saw an uptick in container volume in March, driven by increased demand for steel tubular products used in Texas’ oil and gas industry, officials said.
Container volume at Port Houston in March was 308,557 twenty-foot equivalent units, an increase of 4% over the same period last year.
“The number of rigs in Texas is up about 61% over last year,” Port Houston chief commercial officer John Moseley said Tuesday at the port’s monthly meeting. “There were 346 rigs in operation in Texas last week, compared to 211 last year. There is a strong increase in demand for tubular steel products.”
Steel imports rose 72% year-on-year in March to 401,587 tonnes. General merchandise imports increased by 83% to 840,351 tons.
Imports of bagged goods were up 164% year-to-date through March, while auto units were down 34% for the year, officials said.
Demand for empty containers in China also helped boost volumes in March, said Jeff Davis, chief operating officer of Port Houston. Instead of returning loaded container exports to Asia, carriers send empty containers.
“Empty containers are up 76%,” Davis said. “[Shippers] tell us there is great value in the fact that they are able to turn that pile of empty containers in Asia into full import containers and send them back to [Port Houston].”
The total number of empty export containers increased by 119% at Port Houston in the first three months of 2022.
Ship calls for March were down 3% year-on-year to 679, but were up 6% from February. Barges calling at Port Houston were up 19% year over year to 261 and down 29% from February.
Port Houston handles approximately 13,000 combined daily trades at its Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals.
Roger Guenther, executive director of Port Houston, said the port is on track for a banner year.
In the first three months of 2022, Port Houston handled a total of 903,383 TEUs, a 20% year-to-date increase from last year’s record year.
“2016 was the first time we exceeded 2 million TEUs in a year, so you can say we’re at a pace that’s definitely a record,” Guenther said.
Port NOLA sees general cargo gains, but container volume declines
For the second month in a row, the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) saw an increase in bulk cargo, but a decline in cargo volumes.
The port recorded a 61% year-on-year increase in general cargo tonnes in March, to 253,057 tonnes.
“We continue to see large volumes of general cargo in coffee and plywood,” Port NOLA spokeswoman Jessica Ragusa told FreightWaves.
Port NOLA container volume fell 24% year-over-year in March to 35,004 TEUs. Port NOLA has been hampered in recent months by a shortage of cargo containers, which has affected the global supply chain.
The port handled 12,961 Class I car switches in March, a 25% year-over-year increase. The port handles switching operations for the six Class I railroads that operate in New Orleans: BNSF Railway, CN, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.
Port of Corpus Christi sees oil and crude oil growth
The Port of Corpus Christi in South Texas moved nearly 15.4 million tonnes of cargo in March, a 22% year-over-year increase from the same month in 2021.
Oil shipments totaled 5.1 million tonnes in March, a 13% year-on-year increase. Oil exports totaled 4.2 million tonnes for the month, a 24% increase from the same month last year.
The port also handled 8.7 million tonnes of crude oil in March, a 28% increase over the same period a year earlier. Crude oil exports for the month topped 8.1 million tonnes, a 29% increase over the same period last year.
The Port of Corpus Christi recorded 568 ship calls in March, a 7% year-over-year decrease from 2021.
Watch: FreightWaves Shippers Update for April 27.
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