Eagle Ford oil transforming Corpus Christi port

November 17, 2013 • National News

This Oct. 28, 2013, photo shows a refinery near Port Corpus Christi, Texas. (AP Photo/The San Antonio Express-News, Bob Owen) RUMBO DE SAN ANTONIO OUT; NO SALES

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — It’s a Monday afternoon at the edge of Texas, but this might as well be the center of the oil field. Although the Port of Corpus Christi moves everything from enormous wind turbine blades to military equipment, the Eagle Ford to its north and the field’s various and sundry products — from steel pipe to sand — seem to touch everything here these days.

The drilling boom has launched billions of dollars in port construction projects, as well as a round-the-clock frenzy to move products in and out of the oil patch, and to coastal terminals and refineries.

There are warehouses filled with bulk bags of ceramic proppant, the perfectly spherical sand-size beads used in hydraulic fracturing. Tug boats push inland, and oceangoing barges carrying crude oil. Steel oil-field pipe from South Korea sits stacked near a cargo dock. Workers build new storage tanks. Construction cranes punctuate the sky.

The only vessels that seem to be bringing oil into this port are heading to the Citgo refinery, owned by the national oil company of Venezuela, a country with plenty of its own hydrocarbons.

“Pretty much everything else is moving out,” port spokesman Jesse Samu told the San Antonio Express-News (

Starting this summer, more crude oil left Corpus Christi for other U.S. ports and Canada than foreign oil arrived — a reversal no one saw coming.

There are other turnarounds. After years of outmigration, Jim Lee, professor of economics at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said the city — and especially its port and refineries — has found luck in geography, and an influx of jobs and activity.

About 70 miles to the north, the massive Eagle Ford arcs across South Texas like a crooked smile. It’s now one of the world’s most profitable oil fields.

“Corpus Christi was considered at a disadvantage. We’re at the dead end. You drive south from San Antonio and you hit the waterfront and it’s the end,” Lee said. “Now it’s totally the other way around.”

A map of the port, which includes land in Nueces and San Patricio counties, looks like an Login to read more

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