Corpus Christi crude loadings hit record as new Texas pipelines open

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil loaded onto vessels at Corpus Christi, Texas, last week hit an average 1 million barrels per day (bpd) following the opening of new pipelines from West Texas shale fields, according to consultancy RBN Energy.

Crude pipelines owned by EPIC Midstream and Plains All American Pipeline LP, able to carry up to 1.07 million bpd combined, started operations last month, easing an inland bottleneck by funneling oil to the South Texas export hub.

Last week’s record in Corpus Christi was nearly double July’s average of 525,000 bpd. Nearly half of last week’s loadings occurred at Moda Midstream LLC’s export terminal in Ingleside, near Corpus Christi, RBN Energy’s analysis of vessel-tracking data showed.

Pipeline operators recently have cut tariff rates to the U.S. Gulf Coast, encouraging flows and reducing the spread between Midland and Houston oil prices.

Crude inventories in Corpus Christi recently climbed almost 1 million to 12.7 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 23, with storage utilization reaching 52%, according to market intelligence firm Genscape.

West Texas crude inventories last week fell by 2 million to 21.3 million barrels at monitored facilities, Genscape said. Permian Basin output rose to 4.35 million bpd last month from 3.91 million bpd in January, according to U.S. government figures.

Waterborne crude prices in Corpus Christi this week firmed to a $1.20 to $1.50 per barrel discount to Brent crude futures, the global benchmark. That compared with a discount as wide as $2.50 per barrel in early August and July, traders said.

Reporting by Collin Eaton in Houston; Editing by Marguerita Choy