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Questions raised as Swiss company proposes offshore port facility

Questions raised as Swiss company proposes offshore port facility

The Port of Corpus Christi is a major player when it comes to the oil industry. It’s the largest exporter of crude oil in the nation and the 4th largest port in the U.S. In 2015, the ban on U.S. produced crude oil was overturned, creating a demand for American barrels of oil.

With oil exports expected to surge over the next 5 years, Switzerland based commodities trading house Trafigura is looking to bypass the Port and cash in on America’s oil. They’ve proposed an offshore deepwater port facility in the Gulf of Mexico and it’s posing more questions than answers.

It’s a concern for not only the Port of Corpus Christi but several Coastal Bend agencies and area businesses.

“We have a lot of concern about this project and unless or until those questions are answered we are not going to be in support of this project,” Sean Strawbridge, Port of Corpus Christi CEO, said.

Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge is talking about the proposed Texas Gulf Terminals Project by Switzerland based commodities group Trafigura. The project is an offshore deepwater port facility set to be located miles from shore utilizing a single port mooring buoy system, essentially a floating inner-tube, to load Texas crude oil into Very Large Crude Carriers, bypassing the Port of Corpus Christi. If given the go ahead, the project has the possibility to pose a major impact to the Coastal Bend economy and environment.

“When you look at these offshore buoys they are usually in venues that don’t have the same type of quality infrastructure that we have here in the United States. Places like Africa and India,” said Strawbridge.

The main concern is the buoy systems location. The offshore terminal is set to be just outside of Texas waters, circumventing Texas regulations. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the environmental agency tasked with enforcing state rules and regulations. Because it’s outside of Texas waters, TCEQ will have no authority ensuring safety measure will be followed.