The Port of Corpus Christi, a growing gateway for energy exports, ended 2020 with record tonnage, mainly attributed to a 65% increase in oil shipments, authorities said. 

In addition to increased oil shipments totaling 96.4 million tons, the port saw a 26% increase year/year in liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments at 8.7 million tons.

The port further solidified its position as the nation’s leading energy export gateway with a record 1.9 million b/d of oil exports in December.

“Despite the extraordinary challenges we navigated in 2020, the Port of Corpus Christi and its customers have yet again demonstrated the resiliency of this strategic gateway for American goods to reach the global demand centers,” said Port CEO Sean Strawbridge. “This record performance is a clear indication of the importance of our critical infrastructure for Texas and the nation…American energy exports remain strong,” and the environmental, social and governance programs “continue to lead the sector as we enter an era of economic recovery.”

Several new oil-related marine terminals were brought online in 2020, including by Epic Midstream LLC, Buckeye Partners LP’s South Texas Gateway, Plains All-American Pipeline LP and Enterprise Products Partners LP’s Eagle Ford Terminal joint venture, as well as Pin Oak Corpus Christi and South Texas Cement. 

The one LNG export project is Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Corpus Christi Liquefaction facility.

Agricultural exports were up 70% last year at nearly 4.3 million tons. 

Overall, the port set a new annual tonnage record of 159.7 million tons in 2020, a 31% increase over 2019, as well as a new monthly record of 15.9 million tons for December, 15% higher year/year.

The strong performance helped push 4Q2020 results to a new quarterly record of 42.2 million tons, surpassing the prior record from 1Q2020.

The port and the Coastal Bend region overall have seen nearly $55 billion in private industrial investments over the past five years, the authorities noted. 

Additional investments in infrastructure include the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, which once completed in nearby Ingleside in late 2023 would be the deepest and widest ship channel on the Gulf Coast.

The project received an additional $100 million in federal appropriations in December. Investments include expanded rail capacity to serve all North American markets with three Class 1 railroads and more than 4,000 acres available in public-private partnership development options for companies seeking a more favorable business climate.

“The Port of Corpus Christi plays a vital role to not only the Coastal Bend economy, but that of the State of Texas and the nation,” said Port Commission Chairman Charles W. Zahn. “The success that the port has been able to realize in 2020, despite its challenges, is a direct result of everyone working toward a common goal – to ensure essential goods continue to flow during this difficult time and that economic recovery continues on an upward trend.”