Houston has now overtaken the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to become the most congested US port, according to ITS Logistics.
The port has experienced the same issues as other US ports in the last two years, such as vessel congestion, clogged terminals, depleted chassis pools, and low container storage. In addition, there are specific issues related to Houston port including the Gulf Hurricane season and booming oil drilling in Texas and Mexico, as reported in The Loadstar.
The rise in port traffic at Houston has also been exacerbated by shipments from Asia now being directed towards the US Eastern and Gulf Coasts, at the expense of West Coast ports, as cargo owners seek to avoid the repeat of last year’s logjams at LA and Long Beach.
Furthermore, many cargo owners are nervous about contractual negotiations between Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which could escalate into new strikes at West Coast ports.
These factors have combined to generate a 27% rise in containerised traffic at Houston in January 2022, with a further 10% rise in July, 20% in August and 26% in September, according to The Loadstar.
It is not surprising that average dwell times for imports and exports in Houston have risen, from 3-4 to 6.5 days for imports and 10.5 days for exports, double their dwell times, as reported in The Loadstar.
Meanwhile, as the Maritime Executive reports, port operations across the West Coast have experienced a large fall in congestion.
San Pedro Bay recorded 27 vessels at anchor or loitering on a single day in October, which is a large fall from the 104 peak number it recorded at a similar time last year.
Similarly, import volumes at Long Beach and Los Angeles were down 18% year-on-year last month, reflecting reduced consumer and retail demand, as shown in the fall of ASIA-USWC spot rates which fell to $2,500 per FEU. The cost is expected to fall to $1,500 per FEU by January next year according to Hackett Associates.