Traffic in Houston Ship Channel keeps rising

Enterprise Products Partners docks in the Houston Ship Channel. (Photo: Enterprise Products Partners)

Total traffic in the Houston Ship Channel rose slightly last year, according to data recently released by the port.

Deep water arrivals at the Port of Houston — such as the large tankers piloted up the channel — fell by about 100 ships or 1 percent to 8,300 over 2015. At the same time, barge and tow traffic in the channel, which is measured differently, rose by about 500 trips or less than 1 percent to 139,600.

Total traffic has risen about 10 percent since 2010. There are about 400 more deep water arrivals and about 13,000 more tows over the six years.

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Moreover, the container ships keep getting bigger, and bringing in more product, port leaders said. Ships at the Port of Houston carried 41 million metric tons more in foreign trade last year than in 2003, a growth of more than one-third.

There are now 192 companies and 274 total facilities in the Port of Houston said Bill Diehl, president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau. There’s still room in the channel for companies to expand, he said, but it’s filling up.

“It is packed,” he said. “I give you that.”

This story has been corrected. An earlier version incorrectly identified traffic in the Ship Channel and the unit of tonnage carried at the Port.