A Texas port handling booming exports of US crude oil has invoked a 12-year-old criminal case against the commodities trading house Trafigura as it seeks to slow its efforts to build an alternative site to load supertankers. The Port of Corpus Christi has emerged as a high-volume conduit for oil exports since the US legalized them in late 2015.
The shipments have generated millions of dollars in revenue for the public agency that operates the port, according to Morningstar. Trafigura is a big shipper at the port as one of the top exporters of US crude, moving barrels through the Buckeye Partners terminal on the Corpus Christi docks. But the Swiss company’s Texas Gulf Terminals subsidiary has now proposed building its own export terminal offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, bypassing the port.
If completed, the port’s operating revenue could fall by 12 per cent, according to Sandy Fielden, an analyst at Morningstar. In letters submitted last month, a lawyer for the port asked federal officials to delay the Texas Gulf Terminals application, pending more information on its affiliation with Trafigura. It cited a 2006 US criminal conviction in which Trafigura pleaded guilty to selling oil it falsely stated came from the former UN Oil-for-Food programme. “Because Texas Gulf Terminals has chosen to hide the identity or not provide required information for its other affiliates, there is no way to determine if they also have criminal convictions or have engaged in improper business practices,” wrote the lawyer, Debra Tsuchiyama Baker.