Update: Port of Houston terminals expects to open to truck traffic after ‘hardware failure,’ authorities say

HOUSTON – Two of the Port of Houston’s terminals are closed again Thursday after a hardware failure, authorities said.

In a statement, authorities stressed that this was not a cyberattack on the massive facility’s system.

In an update on social media, the Port of Houston said it plans to open at 3 p.m. to truck traffic, but it’s not clear to what extent its hardware issues remain. The executive director, Roger Guenther said the challenge is to make sure something like this does not happen again.

“It’s unfortunate, we know it’s disruptive to the supply change which is quite good in Houston right now. We are fortunate to be operating right now and we appreciate the users of those facilities,” he said.

KPRC 2 spoke to Margaret Kidd, the program director for the Supply Chain and Logistics Technology at the University of Houston. Kidd said last month, the Port of Houston had over  292,000 twenty-foot equivalent units of TEUs transported to the Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals. She said it will take some time to work things back into the system.

“This was the perfect storm. We were already experiencing stress on supply chains globally and if we look at this record trade and how it trickles down all these distribution centers in Houston are packed to the max. There is already a shortage of trucks. Shortage of chassis so there was already a back log of trade,” Kidd said.

Officials said there will be extended hours at the gate tonight and throughout the weekend until everything gets back on track.

Port of Houston authorities said Bayport and Barbours Cut Container Terminals are affected at this time.

The executive director, Roger Guenther, issued this letter on Wednesday about the situation:

“To all of Port Houston Customers and Stakeholders,

Yesterday, in advance of the truck gates opening at their normal time of 7:00 a.m. we experienced a major failure of the storage devices that support all of the applications used to operate both Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals. Our staff responded immediately and moved the applications and associated data to a redundant set of storage devices and the terminals were again operational by 10:00 a.m. Unfortunately, the redundant storage devices failed at 12:00 noon and the terminals have been unable to process any transactions since then. I want to be clear that this is not a cyber-attack on the Port Houston operating system. The ships that were already in progress have been able to continue working, but new vessel starts have not been possible. The truck gates at both container facilities are also idle. In addition to Port Authority staff, our contractors have also been working around the clock to rectify the issue as soon as possible. All necessary hardware is now in our possession, but configuration and restoration of all components has been a slow process. Frankly, the outlook for reopening today is not good. We will continue to provide updates through our normal communication channels with the industry. I can assure you that upon return to operation our plans include daily extended gate hours as well as weekend gates. Also, all available resources will be provided to continue vessel operations. We certainly recognize the impact this situation has on our industry partners and we ask for your patience. Also, please know that we have every available resource working to restore our systems and return to work to serve you as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

Roger Guenther Executive Director”

The Port of Houston is along the Houston Ship Channel, a 52-mile ship channel. The port is the No. 1 U.S. port in waterborne tonnage, according to the Port of Houston’s website. Petroleum and petroleum products are leading import and export commodities.


About the Authors:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.