Port of Corpus Christi: The energy port of the Americas

Jarl Pedersen's picture
Jarl Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer, Port Corpus Christi
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With the continued exploration of North America’s prolific Permian Basin, and the Eagle Ford Shale, various Y-Grade NGL pipeline projects with fractionation plants are planned to connect to the Corpus Christi region.  These include the EPIC Y-Grade and Permico Energia pipeline projects.  Additionally, several major Natural Gas pipeline projects are proposed from West Texas in addition to the existing Natural Gas pipelines from production areas that are all part of the vast Natural Gas Pipeline network extending to the Port of Corpus Christi. 

Cheniere Energy has planned to be a top five global supplier of LNG by 2020, and its Corpus Christi Liquefaction project is a key component in reaching this goal.  At Cheniere’s site along the Port of Corpus Christi’s La Quinta Channel, Stage-I comprising two, 0.7 billion-cubic-feet-per-day (4.5-mtpa) Trains are under construction by Bechtel, and are nearing completion.  7.62 mtpa of the first two Train’s 9.0 mtpa capacity are already under long-term sale and purchase agreements.  Trains one and two should begin commercial operation in Q2 and Q4 2019 respectively.  A third Train is also planned under Stage-II construction.  For proposed Train three, 0.8 of the 4.5 mtpa capacity has already been contracted.   

Seven midscale Trains were recently included along with one LNG storage tank in Cheniere’s plans for Corpus Christi Liquefaction Stage-III.  Expected increases in nominal LNG production for this phase will increase totals for the Corpus Christi Liquefaction project to 23 mtpa. Cheniere plans to utilize the modularized construction of its Stage-III LNG facilities to bring facilities online in a phased approach in response to market demand. 

Along the Corpus Christi Ship Channel at the Port’s Inner Harbor, Buckeye Texas Processing is the home of 50,000 barrels per day of condensate splitting capacity, and a 1.1 million barrel refrigerated LPG storage system.  Buckeye Texas’ splitter processes condensate into many products bound for local and export markets including LPGs, light and heavy naphtha, kerosene, diesel, and atmospheric tower bottoms.

Additional condensate volumes come from customers such as Magellan Midstream Partners, who operates a 50,000 bdp condensate splitter located on the Port’s Inner Harbor.

In 2016 with a total throughput of nearly 7 million barrels, LPG exports at Port Corpus Christi averaged 89%.  An average of 95% exports was achieved in 2017 with more than 6 million barrels of LPG shipped through Port Corpus Christi.  

As global natural gas demand continues to grow, the Port of Corpus Christi’s position as a hub for LNG exports continues to increase in importance.  The International Energy Agency predicts global demand to grow 1.6% per year reaching up to 4,000 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2022.  China is expected to account for 40% of this growth while demand from the industrial sector also begins to rely more on natural gas consumption for power generation. 

Also by 2022, the United States’ domestic shale industry is expected to account for more than a fifth of global natural gas output.  Of this, more than half of the production increase will be used for LNG export, making the U.S. a top three challenger in global LNG exports. 

The Port of Corpus Christi’s vision of being the energy port of the Americas and help secure an increasing volume of US produced energy to the world is strengthening through supporting necessary infrastructure developments to increase volumes of U.S. produced energy towards global markets.  Numerous infrastructure upgrades and new construction of large ship docks at the Port will support the world’s growing energy needs.  A world-class cable-stayed bridge is under construction at the entrance to the Port’s Inner Harbor with expected removal of the current Corpus Christi harbour bridge in 2021.  Along with the deepening and widening of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, also with expected completion in 2021, these projects will allow the port to safely and efficiently accommodate the modern fleet of LNG tankers, supertankers and other large vessels. 

The Port of Corpus Christi and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a Project Partnership Agreement for the deepening and widening of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel on September 9, 2017. The Channel Improvement Project (CIP) was recently included in President Trump’s FY’19 Budget in recognition of the growing demand for U.S. energy exports.  The completion of the CIP will allow the Port to accommodate larger vessels and increase export volumes of U.S. produced oil and natural gas, supporting global demand and bolstering domestic energy production.

If you would like to hear more on global gas and LNG developments, be sure to register to attend the 2018 Gastech Exhibition and Conference and gain exclusive market insights by market experts. 

Image courtesy of Port Corpus Christi