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The Port Of Houston Leads The Nation In Break Bulk Cargo. What's That Mean For Houston Industrial And Logistics?


A highly specialized form of shipping has put Houston at the center of a complex logistics chain, and according to CBRE research, that's rippling through our CRE market. The Port Of Houston is the top break bulk cargo destination in the U.S. From Brownsville to Port Arthur, the Texas Gulf Coast handles more than $503B annually in the highly specialized logistics segment, and that drives CRE activity in Houston.

Break bulk shipping is cargo transported as separate pieces, anything that doesn't go into a shipping container. Major break bulk commodities for the Texas Gulf Coast include steel, wood pulp, wind energy production components, and other highly specialized forms of industrial and energy equipment.


The break bulk shipping industry in Texas is particularly benefiting from wind energy shipping components. The Port of Corpus Christi accepted 70 break bulk vessels containing wind energy components in 2015 and anticipated similar volumes in 2016. (Final numbers are being tallied.)

Industrial product along the Texas Gulf Coast will remain buoyed by robust trade in the Port of Houston. With Houston's energy and break bulk shipping infrastructure, recent activity in the Permian basin will be a boon for ports along the Gulf of Mexico. The infrastructure provided by the port supports millions of square feet of occupier demand, and has led the transformation of the Port of Houston — and the other Texas Gulf Coast ports — into a concentrated global trade and logistics hub.

With the recent expansion of the Panama Canal and 76,000 acres available across Texas ports, the state is poised to bulk up its logistics. The Port of Houston features 47 different general cargo and heavy lift docks. In 2016, the Port Authority spent $275M on various capital projects, and while most of it ($184M) went to container shipping development, $35M went to fund bulk terminals in the turning basin area. The Port's new cranes and deeper channel mean Houston is ready to move mountains ... or at least a ton of wind turbines and concrete particles.