HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chemical tanker arrivals at Port Houston started the year off on a positive note, rising by 5.6% compared with the same month a year ago, while overall arrivals are down by 12% as global economies continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to shipping data from the Greater Houston Port Bureau (GHPB), January chemical tanker arrivals are down by 3.2% from the previous month.
The increase in January chemical tanker arrivals is more in line with the monthly average of arrivals over the past three years.
In 2018, Port Houston averaged 149.9 arrivals/month, according to the GHPB data. In 2019, the average rose to 158/month. The average fell to 152.2/month last year.
Container ship arrivals in January fell by 6.3% from the same month a year ago and were flat from December.
A continued shortage of shipping containers in Asia is putting upward pressure on freight costs, but the January totals line up with the monthly average from 2020 of 90.9.
The monthly average for container ship arrivals was 86.8 in 2019 and 80.2 in 2018.
Most chemicals are liquids and are moved in chemical tankers. But container ships move polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which is shipped in pellets.
Oil tanker arrivals slumped by almost 14% in January compared with the same month last year. Reasons for the large decline in oil imports include increased domestic production and lower operating rates at refineries.
Oil tankers accounted for almost 26% of all vessel arrivals at the port in January. This is down a tick from 27% in 2020 and down noticeably from 2019, when oil tankers made up 31% of all arrivals.
Total arrivals at the port were down by 5.1%.
The Houston port is the top US crude oil export hub, according to Florida research firm WorldCity.
Port Houston ranked seventh in total containers handled in 2018, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
Chemicals, including plastics, represented 11% of exports at Port Houston.
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