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Port of Corpus Christi now largest in U.S. in tonnage

The Port of Corpus Christi became the largest port in terms of revenue tonnage in the United States after a record 2020, including its highest monthly export numbers in December. Courtesy photo

The Port of Corpus Christi reported a record year in exports for 2020 and is now the nation’s largest port in total revenue tonnage. The increase is attributed to a 65 percent increase over 2019. The biggest record came in December 2020 when crude oil shipments rose to 1.9 million barrels a day.

“Despite the extraordinary challenges we navigated in 2020, the Port of Corpus Christi and its customers have yet again demonstrated the resiliency of this strategic gateway for American goods to reach the global demand centers,” said Sean Strawbridge, chief executive officer for the Port of Corpus Christi in a statement. “This record performance is a clear indication of the importance of our critical infrastructure for Texas and the nation.”

New records set include in annual tonnage with a total of 159.7 million tons — a 31 percent increase over 2019 — and in monthly tonnage with 15.9 million tons in December 2020. That was 15 percent higher than December 2019.

Helping boost overall output were several new marine terminals brought online in 2020. Those included terminals built by EPIC Midstream, Buckeye’s South Texas Gateway, Plains All American and Enterprise Products’ Eagle Ford Terminal joint venture, Pin Oak Corpus Christi, and South Texas Cement.

The port also saw a 26 percent increase in the export of liquified natural gas shipments at 8.7 million tons. Agricultural exports increased 70 percent in 2020 at nearly 4.2 million tons.

More than $55 billion in private industrial investments have been made in the Coastal Bend over the past five years, which the port called “an unprecedented level of growth resulting in a vibrant regional economy.”

Not included in that number is the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, which should be completed in 2023 and result in the deepest and widest ship channel in the entire U.S. Gulf. The port also expanded its rail capacity.

“The success that the port has been able to realize in 2020, despite its challenges, is a direct result of everyone working toward a common goal: to ensure essential goods continue to flow during this difficult time and that economic recovery continues on an upward trend,” said Charles W. Zahn, Port of Corpus Christi commission chairman.

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