The Port of Houston has transformed the city into one of the world’s premier locations for international trade. Not only is it the largest Texas port, but it is also the number one foreign trading port in the United States by tonnage. The port plays a critical role in supporting the Houston and Texas economies - nearly $5.7 billion in state and local tax revenues are generated by business activities related to the port.
From Us To The World
The port was formed concurrently with the city of Houston itself. Congress designated Houston as a port in 1870 – a year which also marked the first survey of the city’s proposed ship channel. The timing couldn’t have been better. As the Houston Ship Channel was being developed, an event that would transform the city and the world was also transpiring: In 1901, oil was discovered at Spindletop.
By 1914, the then-25-foot-deep ship channel was finally open, cementing Houston’s place in history as a central trading hub for the United States. Within a few short years, Houston’s port and the area’s growing energy abundance created a synergy allowing both to grow.
Within 15 years, eight refiners had established facilities along the 52-mile ship channel, jumpstarting what would eventually grow to the nearly 200 private companies located there today – many of which are key players in the energy supply chain. Even more astounding, the 10 refineries in the Houston metro area process 2.6 million barrels of crude oil per calendar day. In 2018, the Houston Ship Channel region shipped more than 35 percent of the nation's crude oil exports.
Here are some key facts about the Port of Houston:
The Greater Port of Houston is the No. 1 U.S. port in foreign waterborne tonnage.
Houston Ship Channel-related activity helped generate more than $339 billion annually in statewide economic value, according to a 2018 Martin Associates study.
Petroleum and petroleum products are leading import and export commodities of the port.