Corpus Christi set to be top U.S. crude export hub
The Texas port of Corpus Christi will emerge as the US’ top crude oil export hub over the next decade, reflecting major investments in shipping facilities and pipeline infrastructure, new research from Wood Mackenzie's North America Crude Markets Service shows.
Crude oil production volumes are surging across the Lower 48 states and are expected to rise by 4 million barrels per day (b/d) over the next five years.
A significant portion of these volumes will be transported via Permian pipeline projects. More than 2 million b/d of pipeline capacity between the Permian basin and Corpus Christi is currently under construction and is due to come online within the next eight to 12 months.
Wood Mackenzie forecasts that at peak production, the Corpus Christi region will account for 56% of total US crude shipments abroad.
To enable it to handle these volumes, the Port of Corpus Christi is currently undergoing a US$380 million expansion that could potentially allow the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to accommodate the world's largest crude tankers, known as Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs).
About half a dozen companies have proposed building new US export facilities that are capable of fully loading a VLCC. Wood Mackenzie's research suggests that three of the proposed terminals will be needed, and two of those winning facilities will be in the Corpus Christi area.
John Coleman, Principal Analyst, North America Crude Markets, said: "A massive pipeline build-out in the US is currently underway that will underpin and support production growth in the US over the next decade.
"Part of this story will be the significant amount of capacity being built out of the Permian basin, pointed at the Corpus Christi market. We expect this to quadruple Corpus Christi export volumes within five years.”
He added: "With the significant increase in demand for exports through Corpus Christi expected in coming years, the massive pipeline build-out into the market will need to be met with an equally massive export infrastructure build-out to facilitate an expected 300% increase in exports by 2023."