Port of Corpus Christi expanding to meet export opportunities for Texas crude
Late last month, an oil tanker that measures three football fields long and six stories high moved slowly through the port of Corpus Christi, Texas, to test the waters of America’s booming crude-export industry.The Gulf Coast needs more refineries that can handle the light crude being exported. Current operations are geared to the refining of heavy crude which is one of the reasons the US is still importing oil. Neither the government or the industry has shown any dramatic move to change over to the refining of the abundant light crude.
After navigating the Aransas pass around 7 a.m. on May 26, the vessel, Euronav NV’s Anne, didn’t pick up any oil. But its arrival in the humid air of South Texas marked the first time ever a tanker of that size had called on a U.S. terminal in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Anne docked at Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s terminal to determine if some of the world’s biggest carriers could start ferrying oil from Texas to foreign buyers. The shipping upgrade is necessary after a surge in production from U.S. shale fields like the Permian Basin brought more oil than Gulf Coast refiners could handle. And Corpus Christi is vying to become America’s main export hub.
“Corpus Christi was the No. 1 port for U.S. crude exports last year, and this trend is continuing,” said John LaRue, the port’s executive director.
Shipping oil overseas is something new in the U.S., a country that spent most of the past century refining almost every drop of domestic output. For decades, tankers laden with crude from around the world arrived at Gulf Coast refineries to be made into fuel for American cars and trucks. Dependence on imports grew as domestic output fell.
... America now exports more than OPEC members Qatar, Libya, Ecuador and Gabon.