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Eagle Ford Impact on Kleberg Discussed at Forum

by Tim Acosta, Kingsville Record

Kleberg County has the potential to take advantage of the growing oil and natural gas boom in Texas, according to Port of Corpus Christi Commissioner Barbara Canales, who was a speaker last week at an economic forum at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Canales spoke at length about the future of growth at the Port of Corpus Christi, which is one of the top ports in the United States, and how it could impact Kleberg County. She pointed to Kleberg County's existing interstate and railroad infrastructure as attractive selling points for companies looking to move products from and to the port. She said expanding trade with bordering countries was key to that type of growth.

“Everybody thought about east to west as far as movement of trade of goods,” Canales said. “But the future lies north (to) south, and we are in the middle of that north-south border, from Canada and our friends in Central and South America. This Foreign Trade Zone offers companies an opportunity in setting up their operations in our backyards.”

Canales also highlighted figures that showed that outbound crude oil from the Port of Corpus Christ was essentially non-existent, or “DOA,” in 2011. However, after the Eagle Ford Shale boom took hold, that number has ballooned to 170 million barrels thus far this year, she said. Canales said there have been $32 billion in foreign and domestic investments made in the port. That includes a $13 billion investment from Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC, a subsidiary of Cheniere Energy, for the development of a liquefied natural gas export terminal at the port. The project is in the review and permitting process, Canales said. Kleberg County has the potential, she said, to use its interstate and railroad connections to serve as a satellite industrial site for companies like Cheniere.

She said because of limited land available along the ship channel, companies could begin looking to other areas to establish their base of operations, so long as there is other infrastructure available for transportation uses. “What’s so amazing about our port, and our region, is that we support three major railroads, four major highways,” Canales said. “This is the type of modal transportation that allows companies to set up just a little bit remote – I would suggest to you that a star should be placed in Kleberg County. It took me no time at all to get here (from Corpus Christi) – straight interstate.”

Thomas Krueger, a professor in accounting and finance at TAMUK, later presented figures about the economic conditions and makeup of Kleberg County. One part of his presentation showcased figures that discussed the fact that despite Jim Wells County generating a lot of revenue from the Eagle Ford Shale, Kleberg County actually out-produces Jim Wells in natural gas and crude oil. Kleberg County’s oil production generated an average of 308,000 barrels from 2011-13, compared to 110,000 barrels for Jim Wells County. Kleberg County also produced more natural gas than Jim Wells County during that same period, but lagged behind Live Oak County, where the Eagle Ford Shale is located.