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Record load of crude oil leaves Port of Corpus Christi

The Cap Romuald was loaded with 930,000 barrels of crude oil via NuStar Energy at Port Corpus Christi in April, 2017. Courtesy Photo

When a supermax ship filled with nearly 1 million barrels of crude oil sailed from the Port of Corpus Christi recently, it reached milestones for both the port and NuStar Energy, the loading company. The Cap Romuald supermax vessel, which was designed to traverse the Suez Canal, held more than three times the port’s entire outbound crude volumes in 2010. The 930,000 barrels loaded by NuStar was a milestone for the company, which operates 8,643 miles of pipeline and 87 terminal and storage facilities for crude oil and refined products.

Now that long-term tenants such as NuStar Energy can accommodate the larger ships used around the world, the Port of Corpus Christi is in a position to become the largest energy port in the Americas, announced the port in a news release April 12.

“NuStar Energy’s historic crude oil load out of nearly 1 million barrels to a single vessel is example of the energy renaissance we are experiencing in the United States and particularly in South Texas,” said Charles W. Zahn, Jr., Port of Corpus Christi Commission Chairman. “We are excited to witness the momentum first hand and share it with energy industry partners such as NuStar.”

The U.S. is on track to become a net exporter of its energy production by 2026, according to a recent forecast by the Energy Information Administration. The last time the U.S. was a net energy exporter was 1953. Now that Congress has lifted a 40-year ban on crude oil exports to foreign countries, and production in shale plays like Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin are again on the rise, the economic tide is also on the uptick.

The increase will be helped along by three new pipelines in the works connecting the oil fields of West Texas to the Coastal Bend. The port has been preparing as well, enhancing infrastructure under its 10 year, $1 billion Capital Investment Program.

The port has also built new deep-draft liquid bulk docks to accommodate the bigger ships and is beginning a project to increase the width and depth of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Barge shelves will be installed along the channel to support the more then 2,000 barges that move in and out over a year.

The ultimate in upgrades is also underway: building the new Harbor Bridge, which will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere. Higher than the old Harbor Bridge, this new structure will allow bigger ships into the harbor improving operating efficiencies to the marine transportation markets, said the port in its news release.

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