AAPA Seaports Advisory

Vessel Operations: Corpus Christi

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Corpus Christi Hosts the Largest Vessel to Call at a U.S. Gulf of Mexico Port

The largest tanker ever to dock at a Gulf of Mexico arrived last week at the Port of Corpus Christi. M/V Maria, a 157,523 dwt VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), tied up May 26 at the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center (OIEC) export terminal.

The ship’s arrival underscored the port’s significance as a major exporter of Permian Basin crude. Occidental Petroleum Corporation used the visit for operational planning in preparation to regularly load VLCCs from its Ingleside terminal.

Owned by Belgium-based Euronav, M/V Anne is 902 feet/274.8 meters long, 158 feet/48 meters wide, and capable of loading more than 2.0 million barrels of oil. A fully laden VLCC can require depth of up to 66 feet.  Ship channel depth at Port Corpus Christi is at -47’ Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), which would require a partial load of the VLCC and an accompanying vessel to fill the remaining cargo once offshore. Current VLCC operations require multiple smaller vessels to transport product offshore for loading.

When the U.S. oil export restrictions were lifted at the end of 2015, the first export cargo of U.S. crude oil in nearly forty years sailed aboard the tanker, THEO T, from the South Texas port. Further benchmarking the U.S. crude export trend, a single vessel load record was set at Port Corpus Christi in April 2017, when 930,000 barrels of crude oil was loaded to the Suezmax class Cap Romuald.

"We believe the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center is the premier crude oil export terminal in the United States," said Vicki Hollub, president and chief executive officer, Occidental Petroleum. "Permian Basin crude is being exported Asia, Europe and elsewhere around the world, and Occidental’s export facility is well positioned to serve the Permian, which is the largest and fastest-growing basin in the U.S. The arrival of the VLCC at our terminal continues to build on our position as the Permian’s largest oil producer, enabling us to load the largest ships with our crude and the crude of other producers."

Port Corpus Christi has embarked on a 10-year, $1 billion capital investment program that includes deepening the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to -54 feet/16.4 meters (MLLW) and widening it to 530 feet/161.5 meters. Another project entails replacement of Corpus Christi bridge with what will be the largest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere. Scheduled for completion in 2020, the bridge will increase air draft clearance to 205 feet/62.5 meters.

"With a vision to be the Energy Port of the Americas, it is fitting for yet another milestone in U.S. crude exports to be set at our port," Chairman Charles W. Zahn of the Port Corpus Christi Commission. "As the first VLCC class vessel to call on any Gulf of Mexico port enters our Port Corpus Christi waterways, we are further assured of the importance in continuing infrastructure enhancements, and further deepening our ship channels."

VLCC Anne at Oxy Ingleside Energy Center
Photo/Port Corpus Christi


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