Conference objective:

To provide customers of gulf shipping services — including retailers, manufacturers, consumer product firms and agribusiness companies —with an overall understanding of and potential solutions to the challenges they and their transportation and logistics providers face when moving freight through the U.S. Gulf.

Jump to Topics & Sessions


Monday Agenda

Tuesday Agenda


Theme: The U.S. Gulf Alternative — Meeting Shippers’ Growing Demands

More than two dozen deep-water ports operate along the Gulf Coast in the U.S., Mexico and Central America. Several are riding a wave of two crucial events: a booming petrochemicals market and the opening of the expanded Panama Canal. The former is poised to pay huge dividends for Gulf ports as huge factories are being built that will lead to strong growth in resin exports in the coming years. Houston alone, for example, expects the resins business to generate up to an additional 500,000 TEUs a year.

The importance of that business took on more meaning in April, when Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. — the world’s two largest containerized ocean carriers — announced a new trans-Pacific all-water Panama Canal service as part of their 2M Alliance that will serve Houston and Mobile. The growth in petrochemical business is good news considering the deep slump in energy markets — the Gulf’s cash cow for decades — is having on business in the region. On the containerized side, the largest Gulf ports outpaced overall U.S. port growth in 2015, largely as a result of diversions related to the 2014-15 longshore labor contract controversy on the West Coast. But with Gulf ports holding on to a large slice of that cargo, they are looking to build on a year that, according to PIERS, saw:

  • 9.3 percent growth in laden volumes at Houston, the nation’s 7th largest container port.
  • 12.2 percent growth at New Orleans, the 15th largest container port.
  • 6.4 percent growth at Mobile, the 18th largest U.S. container port.

Meanwhile, with the Panama Canal promising to bring new services in 2017 and volumes already growing, ports from Tampa in the east to Houston and Galveston in the west are racing to complete infrastructure projects to lure new traffic and improve efficiency for shippers:

  • Houston plans to invest $1.6 billion through 2021 to expand its Barbour’s Cut and Bayport container terminals.
  • Mobile’s APM Terminal is expanding annual capacity to 600,000 TEUs from 350,000 and will open a new intermodal container transfer facility in June.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, is in the second phase of a 10-year project to deepen the La Quinta ship channel to 52 feet from 45 feet.
  • The opening of a new intermodal terminal serving the Port of New Orleans.

The inaugural Gulf Shipping Conference will examine these and other containerized and heavy-lift market trends, as the Gulf region takes on increasing importance for importers and exporters.



• What should BCOs/Shippers expect for logistics services through the U.S. Gulf?


• Are Gulf ports and transportation providers ready for the surge?

Technology and Innovation

• What opportunities do shippers have to reduce costs through advances in technology related to booking, documentation and cargo visibility?


• With the 56-year-old U.S. trade embargo poised to be lifted, what carriers, ports and exporters most stand to gain?


• Canadian National Railway and the ports of Mobile and New Orleans are touting their intermodal rail potential and have been building or developing intermodal container transfer facilities. What’s the potential for intermodal rail at these ports and Houston?


• The energy and steel markets, two of the Gulf region’s stalwart industries, are struggling. What impact is this having on the overall breakbulk and heavy-lift markets?


• New shipping services coming through the Panama Canal could strain the availability of containers, chassis and trailers. What’s the outlook and what are shippers doing to prepare?


• Several niche liner services, including Linea Peninsular and CG Railway, operate between U.S. Gulf ports and Central America/Mexico. What’s the outlook for those services performing and how do they benefit importers/exporters?