The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded its first contract in a $326 million project to deepen and widen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
Officials with the Corps awarded a $92 million contract to Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, port officials confirmed on Thursday afternoon.
Dredging crews are expected to begin work out in the Gulf of Mexico just east of Port Aransas and continue through the entrance of the ship channel to Harbor Island.
Great Lakes is expected to begin the work in March or April and be finished within one year.
The $326 million dredging project project involves deepening the entire ship channel from 45 to 54 feet and widening it from 400 to 520 feet.
The Port of CCorpus hristi Authority has pledged to provide $100 million of its own money toward the project, leaving the remaining $226 million to be paid by the federal government over the next few years.
Once completed in 2022, the channel will be able to support two-way traffic of supertankers capable of carrying up to two million barrels of crude oil and refined products per shipment.
The dredging contract comes at a time when supertankers have been tested by various port customers. It also comes at a time the Port of Corpus Christi and its tenant Trafigura are seeking federal approval to build what could become rival crude oil export terminals to support a class of supertankers known as Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs.
“This is yet another great milestone for the Port of Corpus Christi as we bring certainty to our customers that we will have the deepest ship draft along the U.S. Gulf Coast,” Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge told the Houston Chronicle. “That will give our customers confidence that the Port of Corpus Christi is the preferred gateway for American energy to our allies and trading partners around the world.”