Port of Entry: Corpus ChristiEconomic Impact, 2015

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Texas' location, geography and diverse economy offer unique trade opportunities with other states and countries. Texas has a number of ports of entry, including seaports, inland ports and border crossings, which facilitate the movement of imports and exports. Texas ports of entry contribute to the state and local economies, each in a distinctive way.

The state of Texas accounted for nearly $650 billion in international trade in 2015. Of Texas' total international trade, $204 billion or 32.3 percent traveled through the state's seaports, with the Port of Corpus Christi accounting for 8.3 percent of the seaport trade, or about $16.9 billion.1

Based on the Comptroller's analysis, the net benefit of trade associated with the Corpus Christi port of entry contributes an estimated 63,000 net jobs to Texas and a minimum of $9 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) to the Texas economy.2 (The Comptroller acknowledges there may be other economic activities directly and indirectly associated with the use of this facility that may not be reflected here.)

Port of Corpus Christi

The Port of Corpus Christi is one of 10 seaports along Texas' 367 mile-long coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Each seaport facilitates the movement of goods between Texas and nations throughout the world. Each Texas seaport is unique, offering different capabilities and a variety of shipping options, including bulk, roll-on/roll-off, container and liquid/gas shipping.

The Port of Corpus Christi was established in 1926 as a major exporter of cotton and evolved to be a major energy port, handling cargo including petrochemicals and wind turbine components. The deep-draft commercial port operates a 45-foot-deep, 300-foot-wide ship channel.3 The National Port Readiness Network has designated the port as one of the state's three military strategic ports supporting the nation's ability to deploy U.S. military forces during defense emergencies.4

The Port of Corpus Christi includes:

  • 125 acres of open storage and 620,000 square feet of covered storage, including 295,000 square feet of covered dockside storage;
  • heavy lift capabilities;
  • direct, vessel-to-rail discharge capabilities to three Class-1 railroads (BNSF, Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific);
  • roadway connectivity to Interstate Highway 37, State Highway 34 and U.S. Highway 181;
  • access to one of Texas' four corridors for oversize/overweight commercial vehicles;5 and
  • the strongest open wharf on the Gulf of Mexico (Dock 8), capable of withstanding pressures of up to 1,500 pounds per square inch.6

The port's General Purpose Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #122 is one of the nation's largest FTZs encompassing almost 25,000 acres within seven counties, and the first continental FTZ with an oil refinery subzone.7 FTZ #122 currently hosts active refinery subzones for 14 individual refining facilities.8

Economic Data

The Port of Corpus Christi ranks sixth in the nation for overall tonnage, ninth in foreign trade and eight in domestic trade. In all, shipping activity at the port accounted for $16.9 billion in trade in 2015, 89 percent more than in 2003 ($9 billion).9 In 2015, the port handled nearly 103.5 million tons of cargo, with petroleum-related cargo accounting for 84 percent of the total. The port receives 7,600 vessel calls, including barge/tug calls, and 18,803 railcar transits annually. After the U.S. lifted its ban on exporting crude oil, the first exports of Texas crude oil left through the port on December 31, 2015.10

Port of Corpus Christi (Port), All Trade (All Commodities), 2003-2015. Source: Texas Centers for Border Economic and Enterprise Development

The Port of Corpus Christi provides 13,770 direct jobs, including 1,436 jobs in the surface transportation sector, 12,130 in maritime service and 202 with Port of Corpus Christi Authority.11

  • Top origination/destination for goods: Canada; Venezuela; Mexico
  • Top Imports through Corpus Christi: oil; machinery; steel
  • Top Exports through Corpus Christi: oil; chemicals; machinery

The port facilitates trade with a broad variety of nations. Its top three trading partners account for less than a third of all trade traversing the port. The port's top trading partner, Canada, represents 13 percent of its total trade, while the second and third-largest, Venezuela and Mexico, each represent 9 percent. The next two largest partners, Colombia and Russia, each only account for 7 percent.

Port of Corpus Christi Trade Value, 2013-2015
  Overall Trade ($ billions) Trade with Canada, Venezuela & Mexico ($ billions)
Year Total Trade Exports (only) Imports (only) Total Trade Total Trade % Exports (only) Imports (only)
2015 $16.91 $9.91 $6.99 $5.26 31.12% $3.87 $1.39
2014 $25.00 $12.09 $12.92 $7.09 28.35% $4.84 $2.25
2013 $25.09 $10.44 $14.65 $6.88 27.43% $3.45 $6.88

Source: Texas Centers for Border Economic and Enterprise Development

The port has an ongoing economic relationship with the Panama Canal that will further strengthen its global trading opportunities. In 2016, the Panama Canal Authority and the Port of Corpus Christi Authority renewed a five-year cooperative agreement with the collective goal of increasing exports to Asia and Latin America.12 The recently completed Panama Canal Expansion will allow larger shipping vessels (including liquefied natural gas [LNG] tankers) to use the port.13 In fact, Cheniere Energy, Inc., is currently constructing a LNG terminal in Corpus Christi to allow exports starting in 2018.14

in 2016, the port initiated capital improvement projects to help it accommodate larger shipping vessels. The federal Water Resources Development Act of 2016 authorized the port to deepen its channel from 45 feet to 52 feet, build a new turning basin and increase the size of its existing turning basins.15 The Harbor Bridge Replacement Project, which broke ground in August 2016, will replace the existing bridge with a new bridge to provide 205 feet of clearance for ocean vessels and will reconstruct surrounding roadways.16

Federal Customs District Growth

The Port of Corpus Christi is part of the larger Houston-Galveston Customs District, which includes the area stretching along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to Galveston, and inland from Freeport northward to the Houston Intercontinental Airport. With $193 billion in trade, the Houston-Galveston District relies heavily on seaports for its trade volume and in 2015 ranked first in the U.S. for cargo volume, at 249 million metric tons.17

Houston-Galveston Customs District: Total Trade, 2003-2015. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Texas has 29 official ports of entry that serve as critical gateways to global trade. Each port, whether accessible via air, land or sea, serves a variety of domestic and international economic activity across multiple industries. The high quality of Texas' ports has a significant impact internationally as well as across the state from its largest cities to the most rural counties. Texas ports play an important role in the state's transportation network, as each directly contributes to and thus affects the entire transportation system. Texas ports contribute to the overall strength and diversity of the Texas economy, which ranks 10th in GDP when compared to other nations.18