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As luck would have it, one Texas city is a port of gold in U.S. oil sales

-By Sheela Tobben and Laura Blewitt, Bloomberg

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Late last month, an oil tanker measuring three football fields long and six stories high moved slowly through the port of Corpus Christi, to test the waters of America’s booming crude-export industry.

After navigating Aransas Pass around 7 a.m. on May 26, the vessel, Euronav NV’s Anne, didn’t pick up any oil. But its arrival in the humid air of South Texas marked the first time a tanker of that size had called on a U.S. terminal in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Anne docked at Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s terminal to determine if some of the world’s biggest carriers could start ferrying oil from Texas to foreign buyers. The shipping upgrade is necessary after a surge in production from U.S. shale fields like the Permian Basin brought more oil than Gulf Coast refiners could handle. And Corpus Christi is vying to become America’s main export hub.

“Corpus Christi was the No. 1 port for U.S. crude exports last year, and this trend is continuing,” said John LaRue, the port’s executive director.

Shipping oil overseas is something new in the U.S., a country that spent most of the past century refining almost every drop of domestic output. For decades, tankers laden with crude from around the world arrived at Gulf Coast refineries to be made into fuel for American cars and trucks. Dependence on imports grew as domestic output fell.

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-By Sheela Tobben and Laura Blewitt, Bloomberg

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