Dredging Kicks Off in Project to Expand Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel

us oil exports
The oil tanker Theo T departs the port of Corpus Christi with the first export cargo of US crude oil after the United States government repealed a 40-year ban on the export of crude oil in December 2015. Picture taken December 31, 2015. Photo credit: Port of Corpus Christi

The Port of Corpus Christi is celebrating the start of dredging work in the project to expand the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to prepare the port for the anticipated increase in U.S. crude oil exports overseas.

The Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project will deepen and widen the entrance ship channel from 47 to 54 feet and widen it from 400 to 530 feet.

At a special ceremony held Thursday, the Port of Corpus Christi spotlighted the first dredgers in the Gulf. The $93 million dredging contract was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company earlier this year with work expected to be completed in 2020.

The overall ship channel deepening project has an estimated contract value of approximately $360 million over the next five years. 

“This moment has been 20 years in the making, and our team at the Port of Corpus Christi is not only excited, but we are humbled and deeply honored to play a role in the American energy renaissance,” said Sean Strawbridge, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Corpus Christi. “We are building and enhancing infrastructure and collaborating with new partners as we prepare to accommodate major growth in crude oil production.”

 Following the famed 40-year ban on crude oil exports, the Port of Corpus Christi has become the largest crude export port in the United States. Its location on the Gulf of Mexico and proximity to the West Texas oil and gas boom drove demand and traffic for the Port of Corpus Christi.

In 2018, the Port of Corpus Christi exported $10.8 billion worth of crude oil. The Port of Corpus Christi currently is the 4th largest port in the United States in total tonnage, and the expectation is that the Port’s crude oil exports will triple, and perhaps quadruple, as production continues to increase, the port said in a statement. 

“Our port has been working toward this moment since 1990. This achievement reinforces our position as ‘The Energy Port of the Americas.’ In the Port of Corpus Christi chronology, today, we made history,” said Charles W. Zahn, Jr., Port of Corpus Christi Authority Commission Chairman.