Port Corpus Christi vies to remain the number one U.S. oil-export terminal

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On May 26, the oil tanker Anne docked safely at the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center export terminal. The tanker is owned by the Belgium-based Euronav and belongs to the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) class of oil tankers. The Anne is over three football fields long and sits six stories high over the waterline.

The Anne is the largest oil tanker to ever call on the Port Corpus Christi or any other Gulf of Mexico Port. A VLCC can hold over 2 million barrels of oil, but it was not loaded on this trip as it was only a testing and planning operation for Occidental Petroleum Corporation and port officials.

The very first export of crude oil in forty years sailed out of the port when oil export restrictions in the U.S. were lifted in 2015. Since then, Port Corpus Christi has remained the number one U.S. exporter of crude. The port also has the record for the single, largest vessel load set in April 2017, with 930,000 barrels of crude loaded onto the Suezmax class tanker Cap Romuald.

Port Corpus Christi is currently in the middle of being approved for a 10-year expansion project. The main focus of the billion-dollar Capital Investment program is the widening and deepening of the ship channel. The aging Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge will also be replaced by what will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere, which will increase the air draft clearance up to 205 feet. The new bridge is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2020.

The Chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi Commission, Charles W. Zahn, said in a statement, “With a vision to be the Energy Port of the Americas, it is fitting for yet another milestone in U.S. crude exports to be set at our port. As the first VLCC class vessel to call on any Gulf of Mexico port enters our Port Corpus Christi waterways, we are further assured of the importance in continuing infrastructure enhancements, and further deepening our ship channels.”

Port Corpus Christi is capable of exporting 960,000 barrels per day, and last quarter the port was responsible for almost 30 percent of the nation’s crude export. Port officials look to grow that number to 2.8 MMbbl of crude per day.

A large amount of the oil that moves through the port comes from the Permian Basin, which currently produces the highest volume of crude in the country. There are three major oil pipelines that bring crude into Corpus Christi from south and west Texas with two more pipelines scheduled to open in 2019. Several large oil companies have also expressed interest in adding extra storage facilities near the port.

The future looks good for Port Corpus Christi, and the leading industries there remain optimistic. As Vicki Hollub – President and CEO of Occidental Petroleum – commented “We believe the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center is the premier crude oil export terminal in the United States.”

Article written by HEI contributor Raymond Arrasmith.

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