Video: Ships Start Entering Corpus Christi as Port Reopens

The Port of Corpus Christi has reopened for business after Hurricane Harvey, with all vessels restricted to a draft of no more than 43-feet.

Following the restricted opening of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel on August 31, the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots started sailing the first vessel convoy at 1700 hrs.

The first vessel to enter the inner harbour in the hurricane aftermath was the 51,500 DWT oil/chemical tanker High Saturn, owned by US-based Diamond S Shipping.

According to the latest update from the port authority, all foreign registered vessels with 100 gross registered tons or larger, all domestic tank vessels with 10,000 gross registered tons or larger, and all domestic non-tank vessels 1,600 gross registered tons or larger must conduct one-way transit only and have a minimum of two pilots for each transit.

The vessels are allowed to transit during daylight hours only.

One of the priorities now is to allow for the more than 20 vessels that were pending unloading for days after the port closure to be assigned berths and move ahead with unloading of their cargo, the port authority said.

The impacts from the hurricane shut down the port for a record six-day period.

Hurricane Harvey has significantly impacted the entire Texas Gulf coast with the petroleum refining centers of Corpus Christi, Houston, Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Lake Charles Louisiana either completely shutdown or significantly scaled back operations.

It is estimated only 25% of the refining capacity in the region is operational.

“This opening will allow the seven local refineries to start up operations in an effort to serve the already short transportation fuels markets in the region and the nation,” the port authority said.

Separately, on Friday, the port authority commission approved a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the deepening and widening of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

The channel improvement project will widen the waterway to 530 feet plus additional barge shelves to allow for two-way vessel and barge traffic in tandem, and deepen it to 54 feet MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water) to allow for safe passage of deep draft large vessels.

Port commissioners also approved the acceleration of USD 32 million in port funds to the USACE to expedite initial construction phases of the project.

“The widening and deepening of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and construction of barge shelves are needed to guarantee continued economic growth for South Texas and Port Corpus Christi and for ensuring the safety of port operations. The Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project is critical to the Texas economy, and the nation’s movement toward global energy dominance,” said Charles W. Zahn, Chairman of the Port Corpus Christi Commission.

The entire project is estimated to cost USD 327 million with the USACE proportionate cost-share projected to be USD 225 million and the PCCA proportionate cost-share projected at USD 102 million.

The move allows for the construction to commence ahead of federal appropriations up to USD 102 million. These funds are intended for use in the design and construction of the deepening of the CC Ship Channel from the Gulf of Mexico to Harbor Island just east of the Port Aransas Ferry Landing.