When the Ship Comes In - First Tanker Set to Arrive at South Texas Gateway Crude Export Terminal

For almost a year now, Corpus Christi-area marine terminals have been exporting more crude oil than their competitors in Houston, Beaumont, and Louisiana, largely thanks to the recent startup of new, large-diameter oil pipelines from the Permian to Corpus. Beginning today, with the expected arrival of the first tanker at the spanking-new South Texas Gateway Terminal in Ingleside, the Corpus area will have the potential to widen its lead in export volumes. In addition to its connections to the EPIC Crude and Gray Oak pipelines from West Texas — and the new Harvest Pipeline and the older Flint Hills Resources system — the South Texas Gateway facility can partially load 2-MMbbl Very Large Crude Carriers. Today, we discuss the Gulf Coast’s newest marine terminal and the important economic edge it gains from handling VLCCs.

According to RBN’s weekly Crude Voyager report, marine terminals in Corpus Christi and nearby Ingleside exported 249 MMbbl in the first six months of 2020, or about 1.54 MMb/d. That’s more exported crude than Houston (159 MMbbl) and Beaumont (73 MMbbl) combined, and more than three times what Louisiana sent abroad in the same period (80 MMbbl). Most impressive, perhaps, is how quickly Corpus has risen to the top. Terminals there exported only 160 MMbbl in 2018 as a whole, the equivalent of only 440 Mb/d. As we said, a big factor in Corpus’s growth has been the start-up of the Cactus II, EPIC Crude, and Gray Oak pipelines, which together provide some 2.1 MMb/d of Permian-to-Corpus pipeline capacity. But growth in export volumes would not have been possible without expansions at the port city’s five older crude-handling marine terminals and development of the four new export-focused terminals that have come online in the past 10 months: Eagle Ford Terminals (first loading in September 2019), EPIC Marine Terminal (December 2019), Pin Oak Corpus Christi (April 2020), and now South Texas Gateway.

We discussed the six terminals in Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor area in Part 6 and Part 7 of our recent “How Much More Can She Stand” blog series. Then, in Part 8, we looked at the terminals in Ingleside, which is located across Corpus Christi Bay from Corpus proper, and which is served by a spur off the main Corpus Christi Ship Channel. At Ingleside, Moda Midstream’s Moda Industrial Energy Center (MIEC; blue terminal icon in Figure 1), has 11.6 MMbbl of storage capacity and three berths, while Flint Hills Ingleside Terminal (yellow terminal icon) — owned by Koch Industries’ Flint Hills Resources (FHR) unit — has 3.5 MMbbl of storage and two berths.

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