Houston Port Region

About the Greater Houston Port Region

The port of Houston is one of the busiest seaports in the nation. This vital economic engine serves an immense petrochemical manufacturing complex and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. The port is connected to global markets by the 52-mile-long Houston Ship Channel, which stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Turning Basin in the heart of Houston, and domestic markets via the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The port of Houston is:

  • 1st in U.S. exports.
  • 1st in U.S. foreign tonnage.
  • The largest petrochemical manufacturing complex in the U.S.
  • The largest container port in the Gulf of Mexico.

The port of Houston is a key national asset, providing unmatched capacity, flexibility, and reliability.

Capacity

The port of Houston spans the upper 25 miles of the Houston Ship Channel. Despite being a relatively narrow channel, innovative maneuvering techniques by the Houston Pilots and barge lanes through Galveston Bay allow for two-way vessel traffic. Industry is actively advocating for a widening project to continue handling two-way with growing vessel sizes.

The port of Houston averages 50 deepdraft vessel movements per day, but has handled surges of over 90 ships per day. On average, about 400 tugs transit to Houston Ship Channel each day, transporting around 635 barges daily. The port of Houston has about as many deepdraft arrivals annually as the ports of New York/New Jersey and Los Angeles/Long Beach combined.

Direct connections with other Gulf Coast ports provides access to more than 400 MMBBLS of storage capacity and more than 4.5 MMBPD refining capacity, including Beaumont, Port Arthur, Texas City, and Freeport.

Flexibility

As Houston is the centerpiece of the country’s petrochemicals industry and the world’s largest exporter of LPGs, such as propane, the Houston Ship Channel’s substantial infrastructure advantages provide these producers with the flexibility to manage their supplies as economic or operation conditions warrant. Multiple connectivity options to other ports; freight access to road, road, rail, and barge; and, empty containers for exports such as resin are available to shippers.

Reliability

The Houston Ship Channel is open 98% of the time throughout the year. During channel closures due to weather or incidents, the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) and a port region industry Port Coordination Team work together to enhance safety and response time.