Cargo Ships Wait Offshore at US Ports, But Not Houston

There is a traffic jam of cargo ships at US ports on the east and west coasts, images of a broken supply chain gracing news coverage for the past several months, but it’s still smooth sailing in Houston.

“We’re not seeing those backups,” boasts Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther. The country’s number one region for exports, buoyed by an active petrochemical industry even while oil declined, has been able to manage the traffic during the fourth quarter onslaught of container ships. With flying grounded, vacations out, dining gone and entertainment halted during the pandemic Americans have been shifting disposable income to purchasing consumer goods, mostly manufactured in Asia, and the ships bringing us our Amazon goodies are in a holding pattern at some ports of call. They are welcome in Houston.

“During the pandemic, starting a year ago, volume went down,” says Guenther, “It started to decline during the summer months but really came back with a vengeance during the last quarter.” First quarter is looking good, too. Port Houston is 25 miles of the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel, managing the public and private terminals, and advocating on behalf of the Ship Channel’s proposed expansion, which is moving forward. “We received the authorization by Congress, and then we got the appropriation, which is very important for the Army Corps of Engineers, and we expect to start the initial stages of the project toward the end of this year.”

Project 11, with a billion dollar price tag, will allow even larger container ships to navigate Houston’s waterways and port, and enhance our international reputation of excellence. It’s the busiest port in the country in foreign tonnage. Last year the Houston Ship Channel was ranked the #1 busiest waterway by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the projection is for even more growth.

photo: Getty Images

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