Port of Corpus Christi

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Port Corpus Christi
Country United States
Location Port Corpus Christi, Texas
Coordinates 27°48′13.6″N 97°23′35.36″W / 27.803778°N 97.3931556°W / 27.803778; -97.3931556
Opened September 14, 1926
Executive Director John LaRue

Port of Corpus Christi is the fifth-largest port in the United States in total tonnage.[1] Port Corpus Christi is located on Corpus Christi Bay in the western Gulf of Mexico, with a straight 45-foot-deep (14 m) channel. The port is located close to downtown Corpus Christi in Nueces County, Texas, but the port is not part of the city or the county. Port Corpus Christi operates without receiving any city, county, or state tax dollars. It is governed by an unpaid board of seven citizens, three of whom are appointed by the Nueces County Commissioners Court, one by the San Patricio County Commissioners Court, and three by the Corpus Christi City Council. Port Corpus Christi handles over 6,000 vessels and over 80,000,000 tons of cargo annually.[2] Environmental initiatives are handled through the port's Environmental Management System (EMS). To fight crime and terrorism, public safety at Port Corpus Christi is handled by the Port Corpus Christi Police Department and its state-of-the-art security center.


Corpus Christi Harbor as seen from the Harbor Bridge circa 1993-1997

The need to build a deep-water port for Corpus Christi was realized after the devastating hurricane of September 14, 1919. Local business leaders realized that a deep-water port was a necessary catalyst to the local economy. Construction of Port Corpus Christi began. On September 14, 1926, seven years to the day after the devastating hurricane, an official "statewide" celebration of the opening of the Port was held.[3] At that time, the three navigation commissioners were Robert Driscoll, Chairman, John W. Kellam of Robstown, and W.W. Jones. The first port commission was appointed in 1923 with three members. In 1973, a special act of the legislature increased the number of commissioners to five, and in 1983, another special act of the legislature increased the number to seven.[4] In the early days of the port, cotton was king. Nueces County and surrounding counties were among the state's leaders in cotton production. Four cargo docks were ready when the port opened. The use of the port from its opening was so great, after only two years in 1928, the port went to the people with an issue of an additional $1,500,000 in bonds to build two more cargo docks. In 1930, the channel was deepened to 30 feet. In the early 1930s, large oil fields were discovered in San Patricio, Nueces, and neighboring counties. Refineries began to locate along the port. From the mid-1930s, the major portion of the tonnage moved through the port shifted from cotton to petroleum and petroleum products. In 1985, the Port of Corpus Christi was designated as a foreign trade zone (FTZ) and in 1986, the agreements were entered into with the first two users. The port's FTZ has subzones which include portions of the facilities of most of the refineries near the Port of Corpus Christi. A channel depth of 45 ft reached La Quinta Channel in 1975. By 1989, the 45-ft depth reached through the inner harbor, giving Corpus Christi the deepest waterway of any port in the Gulf of Mexico at the time. The late 80's and early 90's brought diversification efforts to enhance the economic foundation of the port by attracting new cargoes, including steel products, projects, refrigerated cargoes, military equipment, cruise ships, forest products, automobiles, containers, and more.[2][4][5]


Port of Corpus Christi handles break bulk cargo, project cargo, oil and gas, dry bulk, agricultural, refrigerated cargo, and containerized cargo, among other commodities.[2] Cotton was the main cargo in its early days, and is still traded through the port today. Texas is now the top wind energy production state in the United States, producing more wind energy than all but five countries (the U.S., Germany, Spain, China, and India),[6] thus creating an increased demand for wind turbines. These turbines are also a main cargo moving through Port Corpus Christi. In 2009, the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the dredging of La Quinta Channel extension ahead of the construction of the La Quinta multipurpose facility. This facility (in construction phase, 2011) will provide Port Corpus Christi with the ability to handle an estimated 1 million 20-foot equivalent units annually.[7]

The top 10 commodities traded in 2009 are:[8]

Rank Inbound Outbound
1 Crude Oil Gasoline
2 Fuel Oil Fuel oil
3 Gas Oil Diesel
4 Bauxite Feed stock
5 Feed Stock Wheat
6 Naphtha Alumina
7 Condensate Gas oil
8 Reformate Cumene
9 Slop and slurry Asphalt
10 Aggregate-Vulcan Xylene


In January 2004, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority developed and implemented an environmental management system (EMS) through a Port EMS Assistance Project. It was a partnership effort with American Association of Port Authorities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Global Environment and Technology Foundation (GETF) for 11 ports to develop an EMS modeled after the ISO 14001 standard. The development and implementation took two years to complete and since that time Port Corpus Christi has been maintaining an award-winning EMS program. In 2007 Port Corpus Christi received ISO 14001 certification of its EMS program and continues to maintain this certification.[2][9] In 2010, Port of Corpus Christi received a grant from the EPA to repower its existing 1,000-horsepower locomotive switch engine with two 700-hp GENSET engines to help reduce diesel emissions at the port.[10] In 2011, the construction of six wind turbines began on port property. This is projected to provide over 30 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy power per year.[11][12]