Total Throughput at US’ Largest Port Hits Record Highs in 2023
The buildout of wind energy projects in the U.S. and a major liquified natural gas (LNG) expansion project in Texas is driving project cargo volumes at the Port of Corpus Christi, the largest U.S. port in revenue tonnage.
LNG exporting giant Cheniere is building a 10 million tons per annum (mtpa) expansion adjacent to its Corpus Christi Liquefaction facility, a project calling for significant project logistics support.
Cheniere and BGSN member Bechtel started construction work on the project in 2022.
“Later this year, and moving into the following two years, we anticipate an increase in wind cargoes as the market catches up with demand,” Omar Garcia, chief external affairs officer at Corpus Christi, told Breakbulk. “We also expect to see increased throughput in project cargo as a result of the expansion Cheniere is constructing,”
Last year, the port’s customers set a new high mark in annual tonnage, moving more than 200 million tons of goods through the Corpus Christi Ship Channel for the first time in its history.
Some 203 million tons were transported through the strategic gateway, up by 8.1 percent compared with 2022. The port attributed the rise primarily to a 12.5 percent jump in crude oil exports to 126.1 million tons, a 13.5 percent rise in agricultural commodities to 2.2 million tons, and a slight increase in petroleum products to 42.5 million tons.
A record high volume of LNG – some 16.3 million tons – was also moved through the channel last year. Garcia told Breakbulk that market trends pointed to a “marginal increase” in crude oil exports in 2024.
The port, whose slogan is “moving America’s energy”, announced in September that the US$682 million Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, or CIP, had entered into its last phase.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had awarded the CIP’s fourth and final contract to Callan Marine, the port said, with completion of this phase slated for early 2025.
The CIP, which the port said would render the ship channel the “most improved waterway along the U.S. Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida”, is increasing the depth of the channel from 47 feet to 54 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) and widening it to 530 feet.
The project is also calling for an additional 400 feet of barge shelves to be built, allowing for two-way traffic of both vessels and barges in tandem.
Other projects in development or under construction at Corpus Christi include upgrades at the port’s Bulk Terminal docks and a 35-acre expansion of laydown storage on the Northside of the breakbulk-handling Cargo Dock 9.
According to Garcia, the Cargo Dock 9 project aims to provide direct rail access to the dock as well as the capability to load a full unit-train in Rincon West, an open storage area designed to house general, project, wind, and Ro-Ro cargoes.
The Port of Corpus Christi will be exhibiting at Breakbulk Americas 2024 on 15-17 October at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.