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New VLCC terminal at Corpus Christi moves a step closer

A new $1bn VLCC-sized crude export site is moving ahead in Texas. Commissioners with the Port of Corpus Christi Authority yesterday approved a 50-year lease for a Carlyle Group-backed project. Lone Star Ports, a Carlyle vehicle, has got the go ahead to build a tanker terminal on Harbor Isand near Port Aransas subject to an environmental review as the new port will require extensive dredging.

The project is one of two proposed for the Corpus Christi area and among eight deepwater ports planned along the US Gulf Coast.

“The coast desperately needs more capacity and infrastructure to handle the anticipated oil production growth,” said Sean Strawbridge, chief executive of the port of Corpus Christi.

US crude exports are energising the tanker trades.  Estimates from Clarkson Research show that total US crude exports expanded by 75% year-on-year in 2018 to reach 2m bpd, of which the seaborne share was estimated to have reached 1.8m bpd, doubling from the 0.9m bpd seen in 2017. Volumes exported in the first quarter of this year have hit new highs.

Cleaves Securities is forecasting US crude oil production to rise 11% year-on-year in 2019 and 6% in 2020, with a corresponding 45% increase in US crude exports in 2019 and 19% in 2020.

Erik Broekhuizen, head of tanker research at New York-headquartered Poten & Partners, told sister title Splash Extra last month that while the current sustainable rate of exports is probably closer to 2.5m bpd, this could reach as much as 6m in five years once all the new terminals and pipelines come online.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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