Corpus Christi Booms as Port for Eagle Ford Shale

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Corpus Christi is seeing explosive economic growth from the Eagle Ford Shale’s 24-county oil and gas play. More than $3.8 Billion in projects are under construction at the Port of Corpus Christi, and another $12 billion are being permitted.

port-of-corpus-christiThe port’s business development director, Eddie Martinez, says “Corpus Christi is about 70 miles out from the shale play. That’s been a selling point for us. We’re a deep water port in close proximity to the Eagle Ford Shale.” Many companies that once sought port facilities in Houston are now locating in Corpus.

The port has shifted from being an import facility into a net exporter in the past year as the supply of Eagle Ford crude has outstripped local refining capacity.  Much crude now leaves via ship or barge to other refining centers.

The largest project currently on the drawing board at the Port of Corpus Christi is a $10 billion Cheniere Energy Inc. natural gas liquefaction plant, which would handle shale product. Logistics giant Trafigura is undertaking a $500 million expansion of its crude oil terminal to handle additional petroleum exports. The Port of Corpus Christi is constructing a $46 million rail-yard to handle shipments of everything from Eagle Ford crude to pipe and frac sand destined for the oil fields.

The growth hasn’t stopped at the gates of the port. Small businesses from retailers to manufacturers have also seen a direct spillover from the shale activity.  “To say we’ve never seen economic activity like this in the past century wouldn’t be an understatement,” says Jim Lee, a Texas A&M University Corpus Christi economics professor who is studying the development boom.