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Port of Corpus Christi kicks off $360M expansion to support crude supertankers

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Port of Corpus Christi kicks off $360M expansion to support crude supertankers

The Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, has kicked off a $360 million expansion project intended to allow the port to receive supertankers which will export crude oil produced in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale.

The demand for increased capacity at Corpus Christi and other ports on the Gulf Coast has grown since the U.S. began exporting oil in 2016 and shows no signs of slowing. With exported crude able to obtain higher Brent pricing, the idea of exporting oil has become very popular with Texas producers.

"During the first quarter, we've moved about 90% of our oil, or roughly 200,000 barrels per day, to the Gulf Coast, of which we exported 75% of that, with roughly 60% going to Asia and 40% to Europe," Pioneer Natural Resources Co. CFO Richard Dealy said during Pioneer's first-quarter earnings call.

Other companies, like EOG Resources Inc., have already contracted for increased export capacity in Corpus Christi. Company CEO William Thomas said May 29 that the company hopes to add 250,000 bbl/d of export capacity in Corpus Christi in the near future.

"A lot of oil is coming to the Gulf Coast and there's going to have to be more oil exported from the U.S. as we go forward," he said.

The Port of Corpus Christi exported more than $10.8 billion worth of crude last year, making it one of the largest oil export terminals in the nation. Officials, however, believe the facility can export far more, with the Port of Corpus Christi Authority saying in a May 29 statement that "the expectation is that the Port's crude oil exports will triple, and perhaps quadruple, as production continues to increase."

The Port of Corpus Christi's expansion is intended to help increase those exports. The expansion, known as the Channel Improvement Project, will deepen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel from 47 feet to 54 feet and widen it from 400 feet to 530 feet. This will allow supertankers, which are too wide and deep for the current ship channel, to access facilities along the 36-mile ship channel.

"We are building and enhancing infrastructure and collaborating with new partners as we prepare to accommodate major growth in crude oil production," said Sean Strawbridge, the CEO for the Port of Corpus Christi.