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Port Corpus Christi Supports New Deepwater Port Proposal

Commercial oil tanker AbQaiq readies itself to receive oil at Mina-Al-Bkar Oil terminal (MABOT), an offshore Iraqi oil installation. The terminal is similar to ones being proposed for the Gulf of Mexico on the shorelines of either Mustang Island near Port Aransas and/or Padre Island near Padre Island National Seashore. Photo courtesy of US Navy

An offshore deepwater port with two buoy mooring systems proposed by Phillips 66 recently received support from the Port of Corpus Christi, while the port continues to oppose a similar offshore terminal that Switzerland-based Trafigura wants to build. The difference is location, location, location, said the port. The impending agreement would be the only single-point mooring buoy systems on the Texas Gulf Coast working with a public port authority.

“We think that’s a better solution than the Trafigura solution,” Port CEO Sean Strawbridge said.

Any formal agreement between the two entities will have to be approved by the port’s Board of Commissioners.

Bluewater Texas Terminal LLC, a Phillips 66 subsidiary, applied to the Maritime Administration for the necessary permits to build and operate the buoys. The two buoys would be positioned 21 nautical miles east of the Port of Corpus Christi entrance at Aransas Pass.

A booster station would be built on Harbor Island in Port Aransas, where the port is already planning a marine storage terminal. All this new infrastructure would better enable the port to accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers, massive ships built to carry 2 million barrels of crude oil.

The growing prominence of these ships in the oil and gas industry is behind the push to dredge a deeper and wider passage leading to and through the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The new harbor bridge was also designed to accommodate bigger ships, including cruise ships.

The Trafigura project would be located several miles off the shoreline of Padre Island National Seashore. That project has drawn opposition from Nueces County commissioners as well as the Port of Corpus Christi. Kleburg County commissioners support the project, which includes a pipeline across King Ranch, another supporter. A firm hired by King Ranch recently released a study declaring the Trafigura project environmentally safe.

While the Port Aransas Conservancy, an environmental group opposed to any further port development on Harbor Island, does not openly support Trafigura, it has stated publicly that the offshore port is a better alternative.

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