The next decade has the potential to see the Port of Corpus Christi overtake the Port of Houston as the top U.S. crude oil export hub. The Port of Corpus Christi currently leads the country in oil exports, but soon this could all change.
According to a recent report from Wood Mackenzie’s North America Crude Markets Service, we’re going to start seeing some new major investments in pipeline projects and shipping facilities. This means that 2 million barrels of Permian Basin crude oil will find their way to the South Texas Waterway during the next year. As a result, the Port of Corpus Christi’s export volumes are projected to quadruple.
The Port of Corpus Christi plans to launch a $380 million project to deepen and widen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. After doing this, the channel will be more accessible to some of the world’s largest crude supertankers. These include Suezmax tankers, which can transport a million barrels of crude oil in a single shipment.
Very Large Crude Carriers, also known as VLCCs, may also use the channel. These tankers can carry 2 million barrels of oil. They will be filled up partially at the port, and then partially filled in the Gulf of Mexico. Around a half dozen companies plan on building export facilities that have the potential to load VLCCs. Wood’s research suggests installing three of these terminals, including two in Corpus Christi.
Right now Houston is the United States’ top oil hub. This port is responsible for shipping out $6.48 billion of crude oil through April. The next largest ports are the Port of Beaumont with $3.59 billion and the Port of Corpus Christi with $3.51 billion. Once the Port of Corpus Christi completes the planned development and beings receiving more oil, this will change. In fact, Corpus Christi could account for more than half of all US shipments abroad.
The expansion of pipelines and facilities has the potential to transform the landscape of oil export across the coast. The Port of Corpus Christi will have to expand in order to keep up. They have plans to deepen and widen the channel, as well as install new terminals. These new developments will allow the waterway to facilitate some of the world’s biggest supertankers.