Container flow in April decreased at ports in Houston and New Orleans, while crude oil exports boosted Corpus Christi.
Port Houston reports 8% decline in container volumes
Port Houston’s total container volume slipped 8% year over year (y/y) in April to 307,879 twenty-foot equivalent units.
Port officials said container volumes are slowing amid an expected softening of the U.S. freight market.
“We are continuing to see a slight softening of import cargo compared to the volumes in 2022,” Roger Guenther, Port Houston’s executive director, said during the port’s monthly meeting Tuesday. “Container cargos are normalizing as we projected in the budget for the year, so we’re pretty much spot on what we thought would happen so far. We do see a little softening with the exports as well.”
Total import containers fell 12% y/y in April to 155,128 TEUs, while total export containers dipped 3% y/y to 152,751 TEUs.
Steel imports remained a bright spot for the port in April, up 17% y/y to 442,037 tons. Port Houston also saw 8% y/y growth in general import tonnage in April, totaling 810,983 tons.
Loaded exports were down 4% y/y at 110,318 TEUs in April, while loaded imports fell 14% y/y to 140,720 TEUs.
Guenther said that Port Houston’s container exports overall continue to outpace 2022 volumes, due in large part to the demand for plastic resin. In total, more than 1 million loaded TEUs were handled from January through April.
“That’s the fastest the port has surpassed the 1 million mark, earlier than any other year,” Guenther said.
Mike Shaffner, Port Houston’s director of operations planning and technology, said bulk commodities moving through the port include coal and petcoke, which can be used as fuel or feedstock in industrial products.
Shaffner also highlighted BNSF’s recent announcement that it is expanding service between Port Houston and the railway’s intermodal facilities near the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, along with Denver, beginning June 2.
“The Alliance, Texas, to Barbours Cut service will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the Denver service offering will be on Fridays,” Shaffner said. “We recognize the Dallas area as an important region, and we are pleased to see this opportunity return with BNSF.”
During April, ship calls declined 11% y/y to 683 vessels, while barges calling at the port fell 8% to 352.
Port of Corpus Christi reports 16% increase in crude oil shipments
The Port of Corpus Christi saw an 8% y/y increase in total cargo to 16.7 million tons in April, led by exports of crude oil, dry bulk and liquid bulk cargo.
The port handled 10.3 million total tons of crude oil during the month, a 16% increase compared to the same year-ago period. Exports of crude oil for April topped 9.5 million tons, a 20% y/y increase.
Shipments of petroleum totaled 5.1 million tons during April, a 4% y/y decline. Exports of petroleum were flat y/y at 4 million tons for the month, while imports declined 15% y/y to 1.1 million tons.
Dry bulk cargo increased 21% y/y to 838,349 tons in April, while liquid bulk shipments rose 476% y/y to 74,856 tons.
Corpus Christi handled 196 ships in April, a 12% y/y decline, while barge calls increased 1% y/y to 486.
Port of New Orleans container volume and breakbulk cargo slip in April
The Port of New Orleans’ container volume decreased 1% y/y in April to 44,724 TEUs.
Port officials said plastic resins, chemicals and coffee were the top containerized cargo during the month.
Breakbulk cargo fell 1% y/y to 162,156 tons in April, with steel and bagged cargo being the top commodities for the month.
The port handled 10,150 Class I rail car switches in April, a 21% y/y decrease. The port handles switching operations for six Class I railroads, including BNSF Railway, CN, CSX, CPKC, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.
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