Galveston Wharves cargo tonnage is up 37 percent year-to-date through June over 2020, with grains, bulk liquids and new car imports showing the biggest growth. With a total 2.6 tons for the first half of 2021, the port is on track to exceed its 4.3-million-ton total in 2020 and reach the highest annual total since 2016.

“Galveston’s cargo growth fuels the economy and adds thousands of good-paying jobs in our region and state.”

Rodger Rees, port director and CEO

He estimated that total union labor hours in 2021 could be up 25 percent over last year due to increased cargo activity and the resumption of cruise sailings in July. The port is forecasting 128 cruise calls in the second half of the year. Several factors are contributing to the growth, Rees said.

As the global economy opens, demand for transportation fuels is one driver for the 48-percent increase in bulk liquid exports, which totaled 1 million tons for the first half of the year.

Bulk grain exports, largely hard wheat going to China, are up 89 percent due to trade policy changes and demand, Rees said. Galveston exported 734,000 tons of grains through June.

Continued strong demand for wind energy and extension of a federal tax credit helped fuel a 36-percent increase in wind turbine imports. Also this year, a stevedoring company opened a 17-acre laydown area served by rail and road, allowing the port to handle more wind cargo. 

Foreign car imports reflect economic and pandemic recovery, Rees said, as production ramps up overseas and U.S. consumer demand rises. Up 66 percent over the same period in 2020, new cars totaled 12,131 tons. Similarly, other roll-on/roll-off cargo, including heavy farm and construction equipment, was up 14 percent, totaling 193,000 tons.

Lightering activity, the transfer of cargo from ship to barge, has grown 90 percent since the port began focusing on growth in that area in 2018.

“Our proximity to open seas, interstate highways and rail service, as well as our experienced skilled labor, make us the port of choice for a wide range of cargos.”

Roger Rees

About Galveston Wharves at Port of Galveston

Located at the entrance to Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston Wharves has been a thriving maritime commercial center since 1825. Just 45 minutes from open seas, the 840-acre port has infrastructure and assets to serve growing cruise, cargo and commercial businesses. As the fourth most popular U.S. cruise port, it welcomed more than 1 million cruise passengers in 2019. Also one of the busiest in Texas, the port moved 4.3 million tons of cargo in 2020 and has an estimated annual state economic impact of $2.1 billion.