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Port of Corpus Christi CEO talks final stage of $157 million dredging project, Russian oil imports

Port CEO, Sean Strawbridge, said the project is slated to be completed by 2023.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Port of Corpus Christi is receiving federal funding to make the ship channel deeper and wider.

Many times when oil tankers are coming through the port, they are loaded with Russian oil. According to Port CEO, Sean Strawbridge, that will all stop on April 22, when U.S. sanctions against Russian oil take effect.

RELATED: Port of Corpus Christi dredging project set to be complete by 2023

"We did have imports of Russian crude oil coming through Corpus Christi," Strawbridge said. "In fact, we have a few more cargoes that will arrive before those sanctions take effect later in April."

According to Strawbridge, local refineries who are importing Russian oil are looking for other sources to fill that void before the sanctions begin. Russia provides about 8% of Corpus Christi oil imports.

"They are still allowed to come into the United States because those sanctions did have a 45-day trigger," Strawbridge said. "Because they were already on the water when the sanctions went into effect, they're not subject to those sanctions."

One place local refineries may be looking to for more oil is west Texas. 

"There are certainly more rigs being put into the Permian Basin to drill more. We're certainly seeing increases in production. In fact, the Permian Basin is now producing more oil than any OPEC country with the exception of Saudi Arabia," Strawbridge said. "A lot of those barrels are coming here to the coast and the City Of Corpus Christi vessel for loading on vessels to our allies in our partners."

Another major development Monday was news that President Joe Biden has approved $157 million in funding to the port that will complete the dredging of the ship channel. That will allow super oil tankers to make their way to the port in the future once the Harbor Bridge is built.

"It was this final phase, phase 4, that we needed in order to have project close out," Strawbridge said. "We went to the administration, we told them about the importance of this project. Clearly, now with what's going on in Ukraine and the energy crisis that were seeing globally they listened."

Strawbridge added that the $157 million will allow the port to finish its dredging project by the end of 2023. 

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