Port of Corpus Christi Breaks Tonnage Record amid Blooming Crude Oil Exports

The Port of Corpus Christi, one of the main U.S. crude oil exporters, seems to be unfazed by the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

The port reported a new tonnage record driven mainly by an increase of exported crude oil, which was up by 11 percent year-on-year.

In the first nine months of 2018, the Port of Corpus Christi set a tonnage record of 79.3 million tons, surpassing the previous record of 77.9 million tons from 2015. The new record also eclipses the same period in 2017 by 4 million tons, an increase of 5 pct year-over-year.

The port’s volume growth in 2018 was also driven by other petroleum products, which were up by 8 pct, and breakbulk shipments, up by 3 pct.

The port authority stressed that increasing tonnage supports its call for the US Army Corps of Engineers to move swiftly in the execution of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project (CIP), which includes dredging the ship channel from 47 feet to 54 feet and widening it to 530 feet, to accommodate larger vessels and allow for more efficient traffic flows.

“The record-setting tonnage supports the critical need for continued investment in infrastructure,” said Charles W. Zahn, Jr., Port of Corpus Christi Commission Chairman.

“ This Channel Improvement Project absolutely will benefit the economy of the Coastal Bend, Texas, and the United States.”

The record is being announced on the back of rising trade tensions between China and the United States, which have led to a complete freeze of US seaborne exports of crude oil to China.

Even though crude oil was left out from the recent wave of tit-for-tat tariffs between the duo, the country’s seaborne exports of crude oil to China dropped to zero in August, BIMCO’s data shows.

In 2017, Chinese imports accounted to 23% of total US crude oil exports. In 2018, that number was 22% during the first seven months.

Total US crude oil exports excluding China hit a new all-time high in September at 6.96 million tonnes, BIMCO’s data shows.

Exports to Asia jumped in June and July, from a 43% share of total exports since the start of 2017 to reach a 56% share. In August that share fell back to 46%.

The two other major importing regions are Europe (26%) and North and Central America (18%), while South America (5%), Caribbean (2%) and Others (4%) make up the rest.