TERMINAL DESIGN + OPERATIONS
Lone Star Ports, a customer of the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, and its partners are in the preliminary design phase for a liquid bulk dock terminal at Harbor Island to accommodate the demand for additional crude export capacity associated with the development of new pipelines from the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin shale plays to Corpus Christi. This terminal is expected to be operational soon after completion of the federal deepening and widening of the outer reach of Corpus Christi Ship Channel (from the Gulf of Mexico to Harbor Island, from -47’ to -54’). The terminal will include marine berths and necessary equipment to support loading of vessels. The remaining tankage would be in offsite locations further inland.
In 2015, the U.S. Congress lifted a decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Since that time, America’s export activities have skyrocketed, positioning the U.S. as a major global energy provider. Texas leads the way in domestic oil production, with the Permian Basin alone expected to produce more than 5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2020. The development of a terminal on Harbor Island will help accommodate the additional 2.4M barrels per day that is on the way to the Port of Corpus Christi by way of three new pipelines, helping to bolster the US Gross Domestic Product and balance of trade in the process.
The applicable local, state, and federal permits will be obtained and relevant Nation Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) coordination will be performed. The details of this NEPA coordination will not be defined until the scope and details of the project are fully defined. However, the Port is working through a matrix of requirements to inform the process. This is a working document that is being updated in real time as project details are defined.
The details of the terminal redevelopment at Harbor Island have not yet been fully defined. The current working concept includes two berths and supporting infrastructure, such as surge tanks, vapor combustion units, marine loading arms associated with vessel loading operations, and an administration building. The majority of storage tankage associated with the project is not envisioned to be located on Harbor Island property.
A VLCC is a Very Large Crude Carrier, capable of carrying up to 2 million barrels of cargo. Cargo ships are categorized by their size, specifically their length, width and weight. There is a steady trend toward larger, more efficient vessels in the world fleet. Larger vessels mean fewer vessel trips, which is not only more economical for the commercial entities involved to move more crude in a single ship but also more resource efficient in terms of fuel consumed and emissions released during the transport process.
VLCCs are among the most modern—and thus the safest—vessels in the world fleet.
The ban on crude export from the US was lifted under President Obama in 2015, and the US is now a net energy exporter. The delivery of US energy to foreign markets—including that which leaves through the Port of Corpus Christi gateway—makes a meaningful contribution to our national Gross Domestic Product and to our balance of trade.
Creating a crude terminal at Harbor Island will accommodate the need to create more export capacity for Texas crude while ensuring full oversight of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality—including 100% control of air emissions—and the safety and security of protected harbor conditions. Locating the facility at Harbor Island rather than at a location further inside Corpus Christi Bay or the Inner Harbor of the Ship Channel reduces the impacts, such as vessel congestion and resource consumption, associated with longer vessel trips. The proximity of Harbor Island to the Gulf of Mexico will also translate to a significant competitive advantage that will attract liquid bulk customers.
The construction and operation of the crude terminal will create jobs and yield direct economic benefit to the local community and the region. The tenant’s improvements (e.g. oil storage tanks) on Port-owned property inside the city limits will be subject to city and school district ad valorem taxes.
If/when the terminal can accommodate fully laden VLCCs, the demand for reverse lightering—offshore transfers from ship to ship to top off partially filled vessels—will be reduced, thus potentially reducing total vessel traffic and associated fuel consumption, emissions, and safety risks.
Further, conducting the proposed operations in safe harbor allows the use of additional controls to reduce potential for spills, such as booming off the vessel while transfer operations are occurring and staging appropriate equipment onshore to reduce response times.
Is there someone at the port familiar with the project we can talk about this issue with? Will port officials come to Port Aransas to meet with residents and leaders and make some sort of presentation on Port plans.
There is a full project team and the technical team consists of members from Environmental, Engineering and Planning. All team members are available for individual discussions or presentations and are eager to engage stakeholders in constructive dialogue.
Port A RAPPORT: August 12, 2019 at 5:30pm to be held at the Port Aransas Civic Center.
The working concept for the docks at Harbor Island shows vessels reversing into the berths, which will require ships to be turned prior to docking; where will this turning basin be located?
There will not be required a maneuvering or turning basin for the current layout being developed for Harbor Island. With the development of the current concept to cut into the property to create the berths and associated slips, the maneuvering of the vessels can occur in front of the Terminal once fully dredged.
Is it safe to turn a vessel, 180 degrees with personal watercraft traffic during the busy summer months? If this is safe, how?
Yes. Per navigational rules, a smaller vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway. Under present conditions, large freight vessels and recreational traffic co-exist in the Ship Channel, including in the location proposed for turning basin, and this should not changed under the proposed vessel operations.
Will the Corpus Christi Ship Channel have to close every time a VLCC comes through to Harbor Island?
No. Partially laden VLCCs currently transit the existing 47’ channel without disrupting recreational use, and we do not expect this to change after the channel is deepened to -54’. The Port works in coordination with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to ensure that new developments do not negatively impact the existing operations.
Will the operation of the Harbor Island Terminal require creation of a security zone that excludes recreational boating.
No. The cargo being transferred doesn’t represent a security or safety risk to merit proposing an exclusion zone in the Channel.
The project site to the north/east of the TxDOT Ferry Landing; no interruption in the ferry service is expected. The Port will coordinate as needed with TxDOT during project planning.