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New Terminal To Cut Into Harbor Island in Port Aransas

A new plan for a proposed oil and gas terminal on Harbor Island could reduce cost and opposition from an environmental group in Port Aransas, according to information released at a Port of Corpus Christi commissioners meeting July 16.

Rather than building docks parallel to the island, the port proposes to dig into the land itself, dredging out a path for Very Large Crude Carriers to turn into the island and away from the Corpus Christi Channel. The change moves larger ship traffic farther from the Texas 361 ferries and out of view of Port Aransas residents.

“Believe it not, that is more cost-effective than was originally proposed — there’s somewhere between a 20 percent and 40 percent cost savings,” Port CEO Sean Strawbridge said. “Two, by pushing them back, it provides less opportunity for a collision and, three, from a visual standpoint, when you’re sitting over in Port Aransas, having the vessels turn like that actually minimizes any visual impacts to the Marina District there.”

The proposal calls for dredging a channel down to 60 feet with the sides cut to a three-to-one-slope, eliminating the need for walls, which are more expensive.

The design changes were announced before the port commission approved a $1.24 million project management contract with Hudson Construction Consultants Ltd. New plans replicate how Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Liquefaction facility handles its carriers.

Hiring a project manager fulfills requirements of a contract the commission approved May 15 with Lone Star Ports LLC. The Harbor Island Dock and Berth Facilities Project is being built in partnership with Lone Star Ports.

Port Aransas Conservancy has voiced opposition to the proposal, running advertisements in the Corpus Christi and Port Aransas newspapers. PAC prefers offshore terminals to what it calls the “re-industrialization of Harbor Island.”

“These terminals still need to use industry best practices,” reads a post on the conservancy’s Facebook page. “The process needs to be monitored.”

An open house and public meeting on a proposed offshore terminal is set for Monday, July 22, at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel, 900 N. Shoreline Blvd. The open house will be from 4-6 PM; the public meeting from 6-8 PM.

One of two offshore terminals proposed in the area, the Phillips 66 Bluewater SPM Project has garnered support from the Port of Corpus Christi over another planned by Trafigura. The Trafigura deepwater port would be off the coastline of the Padre Island National Seashore. The port favors the one closer to Harbor Island and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.