Port of Corpus Christi

From Global Energy Monitor

The Port of Corpus Christi is located in Texas on the western Gulf of Mexico, and is the sixth largest port in the United States in total tonnage. Its exports include coal, fuel oil, gasoline, and petroleum coke.[1]

It was the site of three proposals for coal terminals and expanded coal capacity that were all eventually abandoned: New Elk, La Quinta, and Ambre Energy. As of 2021, it is unclear whether the port handles significant quantities of coal.


The map below shows the location of the bulk docks at the Port of Corpus Christi where coal is handled.

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The Port of Corpus Christi began operating in 1926.[2] It is the largest export port for crude oil in the United States, shipping 314 million barrels in 2018-2019.[3] The port has two dry bulk docks capable of handling coal, one with a 600 short ton per hour unloading rate, and the other with a 1500 short ton per hour rate.[4]

Although its dry bulk docks have capacity to handle up to 10 million short tons (approximately 9.1 million metric tonnes) of cargo per year, it is unclear whether the Port of Corpus Christi handles significant quantities of coal as of September 2021. Coal was not among the top 10 commodities imported or exported from the port in 2017, meaning that total coal handled was likely less than 1 million short tons.[5] In 2019, US Coal Exports estimated that the Port of Corpus Christi had no coal handling capacity.[6] In 2020, the port handled about 1 million short tons of pet coke, but did not report any coal handled; the majority of its dry bulk cargo appears to be sorghum and wheat.[7]

Proposed coal terminals


Since 2011, the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas has exported coal mined in the Western region by New Elk Mining Company (a subsidiary of Cline Mining) and Ambre Energy. Both companies planned to build a new coal terminal at the port, while the Port Authority was also developing its own proposal to incorporate a coal export facility to the proposed La Quinta Trade Gateway. However, the three projects have been abandoned. Both Ambre Energy and Cline Mining terminated their lease with the port for a planned coal export terminal in Corpus Christi and no longer consider a coal export terminal viable in this area. The Corpus Christi port authorities have concluded that the coal export market is too volatile and risky to invest significant sums in new or expanded shipping facilities.[8]


In February 2011, it was announced that Colorado-based New Elk Coal, a subsidiary of Cline Mining, had entered into an arrangement with the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas for a long-term lease of 18 acres of land that will serve as a coal storage area, adjacent to the shipping channel and proximate to the bulk coal ship-loader, to provide New Elk with immediate access to export coal markets for its metallurgical coal. The property lease was effective February 8, 2011 for an initial five-year lease, with the option to extend the lease for five additional periods of five years. The facility is capable of exporting nearly 2 million short tons per year. The port will ship coal from the New Elk Mine in Colorado.[9][10]

In 2012, Australian mining company Ambre Energy also began exporting two million short tons of coal per year out of Corpus Christi.[11]

Ambre and New Elk executives said they were considering joining forces to propose a new bulk terminal at the Port that would solely export coal. If the proposal is approved, the terminal will be capable of handling upwards of 20 million short tons of coal annually starting in 2017.[11][12]

The New Elk terminal proposal was abandoned in August 2013. It was reported on the Port's website that New Elk Coal was going to pay a one-time fee in exchange for early termination of their 5-year lease.[13] In December 2013 Ambre also cancelled its company exports out of the Port, saying it did not see a resurgence of the coal market for a number of years.[14]

The Port was also internally considering a separate plan that incorporated a bulk coal export facility into the proposed La Quinta Trade Gateway. The proposal was put on hold after grassroots activists rallied against it in early 2012.[15]

In September 2012, Port Executive Director John LaRue noted Corpus Christi handled 11,000 metric tonnes of coal in 2011 and expected the three planned coal projects to help the port top 6 million metric tonnes in two years.[14]

Project Details

  • Operator:
  • Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Capacity (Million metric tonnes per annum): 9.1 (operating)
  • Additional Proposed Capacity: 9.1 (cancelled)
  • Type: Exports



  1. "US Export Infrastructure & Trends," T. Parker Host, Fall 2013
  2. Port of Corpus Christi, Wikipedia, Accessed Sep. 25, 2021
  3. Annual Report, Port of Corpus Christi, 2019, Accessed Sep. 25, 2021
  4. Dry Bulk, Port of Corpus Christi, Accessed Sep. 25, 2021
  5. Statistics, Port of Corpus Christi, Accessed Sep. 25, 2021
  6. Estimated U.S. Coal Port Capacity (mst) - 2019 Update, US Coal Exports, 2019, Accessed Sep. 25, 2021
  7. Monthly Cargo Tonnage by Commodity Report, Port of Corpus Christi, Dec. 2020
  8. Sylvie Cornot-Gandolphe “US Coal Exports: The Long Road to Asian Markets,” Oxford OIES PAPER: CL 2, March 2015, Archived Sep. 11, 2015
  9. "New Elk Enters Agreement with Port of Corpus Christi" Coal Age, March 24, 2011.
  10. "Port of Corpus Christi" Texas Ports Association, accessed March 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Port of Corpus Christi Gambles on Coal Export Development," Sierra Club Report, March 2012
  12. "Sierra Club warns against Texas export plans" Manuel Quinones, E&E, March 9, 2012.
  13. "Another Coal Export Terminal Abandoned as Market Declines" Laura Beans, EcoWatch, August 19, 2013.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Fewer lumps of coal for Port of Corpus Christi this year (and probably next year too)," Eagle Ford Texas, December 10, 2013
  15. "Another Proposal Scrapped as Coal Markets Decline," Sierra Club, Aug 19, 2013

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