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Exporting American energy requires investing in ports

Exporting American energy requires investing in ports
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The rise in the export of American crude oil, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas has been a game-changer for the United States. 

As President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE recently stated in his State of Union address, the emergence of our nation as a dominant force in the global energy market is a net benefit for our economy, national security and trade deficit. 

America is fast becoming a dominant force in the global energy markets. This dominance is propelled by significant increases in energy production as American companies continue to drive inefficiencies out of onshore production fields. But moving America’s energy to the demand markets is going to require more investment in infrastructure, namely pipelines and ports. Corpus Christi epitomizes this challenge.

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Since the ban on the sale of U.S. crude oil abroad was lifted two years ago, Corpus Christi has emerged as the “energy port of the Americas.” In fact, the first shipment of crude oil sent abroad in 40 years sailed from Corpus Christi on Dec. 31, 2015. The significance of this event cannot be understated. The world’s balance of energy dominance is shifting back to American shores, and the Port of Corpus Christi is at the forefront of this renaissance.

 

Today Corpus Christi is the largest exporter of U.S. produced energy, and continues to make the necessary infrastructure investments to keep America’s energy moving. In fact, the U.S. is on pace to become a net exporter of its energy by 2023. The last time the United States was a net exporter of its energy production was 1953, nearly 70 years ago.

What this means for the U.S. is an opportunity most have not seen in our lifetime. It should be a priority to reduce our ballooning trade deficit, create more jobs, and position America as a global leader once again on the geo-political stage. We’ve now surpassed Saudi Arabia in energy production, and soon will exceed Russia. 

That means more energy to our friends and trading partners around the world, safely and steadily. Reducing the trade gap is and should be an urgent priority, and our policies, investments and resources should go toward the segments of our economy that are consistently delivering results. Infrastructure and energy are the two that epitomize the Port of Corpus Christi.

In light of the goals outlined in the president’s State of the Union address, we cannot stress enough the importance of American infrastructure — including its energy ports — in fully leveraging this potential. Energy exports are one of the few positive trade stories our country has been able to tell in the last decade.

To take advantage of our natural resource abundance, it is imperative that we invest where it matters: the infrastructure that facilitates the expansion of these exports abroad.

Every four years, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) provides a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s infrastructure, and American infrastructure as a whole just received a D+ in the 2017 report card.

Ports received a C+, and they are in serious need of investment. ACSE notes, “The United States’ 926 ports are essential to the nation’s competitiveness, serving as the gateway through which 99 percent of overseas trade passes. Ports are responsible for $4.6 trillion in economic activity — roughly 26 percent of the U.S. economy.” 

Only a small select few ports are eligible to be included in the federal budget, and even fewer have secured project partnership agreements with the Army Corps of Engineers. Corpus Christi checks both boxes. 

Here in Corpus Christi, we have seen firsthand how infrastructure investment can lead to heightened success in the global marketplace. It is because of the unique opportunity provided by the United States’ resource wealth that the Port of Corpus Christi is currently pursuing an expansion of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

With oil and natural gas production projected to increase, new liquefied natural gas terminals coming online this year and a growing necessity to ensure our friends and allies are not reliant on hostile nations for fuel supply, the success of energy exports should continue to be embraced and supported.

President Trump’s focus on infrastructure and energy leadership were spot on. Increasing our energy economy and reducing our trade deficit have bipartisan support and will allow America to once again thrive. To accomplish this, they need look no further than this nation’s seaports, and Corpus Christi.

Charles W. Zahn Jr. is the chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi.