Corpus Christi Approves Bond Measure to Fund Dredging

The VLCC Anne arrives at Occidental's Ingleside terminal, Corpus Christi, 2017 (POCC)

By The Maritime Executive 06-21-2018 03:03:47

On Tuesday, the Port of Corpus Christi moved forward with a bond measure that will allow it to self-finance the first part of a long-delayed channel dredging project. The port's commission approved a bond sale of $102 million for the dredging project and an additional $115 million for a new crude oil terminal, along with other improvements. 

Corpus Christi seeks to dredge its channel to 54 feet in order to allow large tankers to take on a fuller load of crude oil before departing. The project would increase efficiency and lower shipping costs at what has quickly become America's busiest port for crude exports.

"Our customers tell us that larger, deeper draft cargo ships could save them 50 to 75 cents per barrel, a major global competitive advantage," said Corpus Christi port chairman Charles W. Zahn in a recent statement. "These transportation cost savings are in excess of $300 million per year for our port customers."

The Port of Corpus Christi commission voted in March to authorize up to $400 million in debt if it is forced to self-finance the dredging project. Congress has appropriated $36 million out of the $225 million federal share of the cost, and the new debt would allow Corpus Christi to move forward in the event that it cannot secure full federal support. 

The port is interested in completing the project in time for the replacement of the port's new harbor bridge in 2021, which will remove air draft restrictions for larger ships. This timeline also coincides with the completion of new oil pipelines connecting the rapidly-growing Permian Basin oilfields with Corpus Christi. “We anticipate these new pipelines to be completed by 2020-2021. When this new production take-away capacity is completed, the Port of Corpus Christi must also be ready to handle the anticipated increase in volume. We cannot become the constraint in the continuing growth of energy exports with a [dredging project] that is stymied by lengthy delays," port CEO Sean Strawbridge told the House Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy and Environment in March.