In Texas, America's crude oil faucet gets an upgrade

At 12 million bpd and given the stagnant domestic consumption, US daily exports frequently surpass three million barrels.

26 March 2019 | Business

The name of the game is trying to put more oil in one vessel. - Khalid Muslih, Executive VP: Buckeye GP.

Ali Bekhtaoui - The port of Corpus Christi in Texas is pulling out all the stops to capitalise on America's soaring energy export ambitions: giant new oil pipelines, terminal expansions and dredging - but at risk of environmental damage.

Exports through the port, which ships out more crude than virtually any other in the United States, could surpass 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) once the work is done, up from the current 700 000 barrels.

"The United States is experiencing an energy renaissance not seen in nearly 70 years," said Sean Strawbridge, the port's chief executive.

"That volume has to find an outlet somewhere. If we don't do it someone else will do it."

Energy is by far the port's biggest business. Far from the stereotypical images of stacked modular containers and gantry cranes, Corpus Christi is dominated by fat pipes, belching refineries and giant liquid tanks towering over passageways inside what is the fourth-largest US port by volume.

More pipelines

Three more pipelines will soon appear in this landscape, which makes up in profitability for what it lacks in beauty.

Named Epic, Cactus and Gray Oak will be operational by the end of this year, adding a transport capacity of 2 million bpd.

The three massive conduits will link the port to two main US shale oil deposits: Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin, which straddles the New Mexico-Texas border.

With hefty investments from supermajors Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the Permian produces 4.1 million barrels a day, and that could rise to 4.5 million in five years, according to the US Energy Information Administration, putting it among the most productive oil fields in the world.

The three pipelines will help solve the basin's congestion problems, which have forced producers to resort to far costlier crude shipments by road and rail.

Sprawling operation

A sprawling dredging operation is underway across Corpus Christi Bay to deepen the sea bed to 54 feet (16 meters) from the current 45 feet.

At that depth, "Very Large Crude Carrier," or VLCC, shipping vessels will be able to fill up more quickly - and at a lower cost. Longer than soccer fields, these ships can carry up to 2 million barrels, or about US$120 million in crude oil, based on the current benchmark WTI price.

"The name of the game is trying to put more oil in one vessel," said Khalid Muslih, executive vice president of global marine terminals at Buckeye GP.

The company is building two terminals in Corpus Christi and will expand the port's liquid storage capacity.

At 12 million bpd and given the stagnant domestic consumption, US daily exports frequently surpass three million barrels. Rising exports also would help bring down the record US trade deficit.

Green doom

But what some see as an historic opportunity, others describe as impending environmental doom.

At the mouth of the bay, at the coastal town of Port Aransas, which lies along the path of the dredging, is an estuary transited by a wide array of marine life such as crabs and shrimp.

"If you change the depth, it disrupts the whole cycle," said Dan Pecore of the Port Aransas Conservancy.

A former oil worker who later switched to boat building, Pecore fears the "slow death" of fishing and surfing while the port itself hopes one day to dredge down as far as 75 feet (23 meters).

The conservancy does not deny the economic value of developing the port, given the 76 000 jobs it currently supports.

But it recommends using offshore structures to allow supertankers to load without damaging the coast.


Port Aransas supports the plan, but the Port of Corpus Christi does not, as that could cut into its revenues from ship traffic.

Pecore said enthusiasm for development in the energy sector is a sign of the times under President Donald Trump, who has shown far less concern for the environment than his predecessors, scrapping oil industry regulations.

Trump said in October the dredging would make "a tremendous difference. It will sell a lot more oil."

Pecore says this shows the advantages the port enjoys in the current political climate.

"There can't be a better relationship between Trump and the port." – Nampa/AFP

Similar News


Namport fires 86 employees

13 hours ago | Business

Leandrea Louw Namport has dismissed 86 container terminal workers who were involved in an illegal strike in August last year.Namport acting CEO Kavin Harry explained...

Debmarine to spend N$7bn on new vessel

3 days ago - 17 May 2019 | Business

Debmarine has announced that it will invest N$7 billion in a new vessel, which would contribute N$2 billion a year to the economy.The diamond miner...

Governmentpolicy causes economic decline

3 days ago - 17 May 2019 | Business

Local businesses burdened with a crushingly tough economic climate feel the government's policies have contributed to the current climate, particularly legislation aimed at empowerment and...

Phosphate mining headache continues

4 days ago - 16 May 2019 | Business

ELLANIE SMIT The Chamber of Mines of Namibia is concerned that a way forward on marine phosphate...

Save jobs, buy local

4 days ago - 16 May 2019 | Business

Team Namibia has urged Namibians “now more than ever” to buy local in order to have a positive impact on the economy, reduce poverty and...

Mining: Sunrise, sunset?

5 days ago - 15 May 2019 | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy - Namibia’s mining sector needs policies which will transform the sector from a perceived “sunset” industry to a “sunrise” industry.This will allow investment...

Elevating internal audit’s role: The digitally fit function

5 days ago - 15 May 2019 | Business

Organisations are rapidly rolling out digital initiatives in an arena defined by more data, more automation, sophisticated cyber attacks, and constantly evolving customer expectations. In...

Buy local to support the economy

5 days ago - 15 May 2019 | Business

Bärbel Kirchner - The current financial and economic situation has forced many households and businesses to tighten their budgets in order to avoid going into...

NEEEB dents business confidence

5 days ago - 15 May 2019 | Business

The Namibian private sector has lost substantial confidence in the government and has a generally negative feeling about its future in the country. ...

Rössing deal almost complete

1 week ago - 10 May 2019 | Business

Rio Tinto's sale of its 69% shareholding in Rössing Uranium Mine to the China National Corporation is pending regulatory approval and is expected to be...

Latest News

Rehoboth claim Kudus scalps

13 hours ago | Sports

Leandrea Louw Rehoboth Rugby Club claimed victory over Kudus in both the premier and reserve leagues on Saturday in Narraville.The premier league game ended 11-10...

Namibians nabbed in SA with...

13 hours ago | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT Two Namibian men were arrested in South Africa this weekend for allegedly being in possession of uncut diamonds to the value of...

Missing hiker alive and well...

13 hours ago | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT A 31-year-old Namibian, who went missing last week while hiking in a park in California, has been found alive and well. There was...

Let the games begin

13 hours ago | Columns

The Electoral Commission of Namibia last week announced 27 November as the date for the upcoming general election, which will be preceded by the supplementary...

Stray lions kill three cattle

13 hours ago | Environment

ILENI NANDJATOTwo stray lions killed three cattle last week in the grazing area near the Ongandjera salt pan at Okakewa.Okakewa is situated near Amarika in...

Where to from here?

13 hours ago | Sports

For all local football's claims to be the biggest sport in Namibia, it has never won a match at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)...

What dreams are made of

13 hours ago | Sports

My friend informed me that her daughter send me a congratulatory message a week ago after she heard that I was nominated for the fourth...

Fish River festival set to...

13 hours ago | Sports

Footballers from every corner of the country will converge on Mariental for the third edition of the Fish River Sports Festival that will take place...

Vikings slay Dolphins

13 hours ago | Sports

Adolf Kaure SFC Vikings defeated Dolphins Rugby Club 29-16 in a Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) first division west match that took place on Saturday at...

Load More