Houston port’s $35B blitz led by energy investments (photos)

As record oil and gas output floods the country with cheap and abundant energy and brings the U.S. closer to energy independence, the bulk of the fuels get squeezed through Houston, the country’s largest export gateway and the core of its biggest refining region.

Businesses operating on the Houston Ship Channel were set to invest $35 billion in capital and maintenance in the port between 2012 and 2015, according to a survey by the Greater Houston Part Bureau. The Houston Chronicle has reported that the cash infusion largely targets expanded refineries and new infrastructure related to the natural gas boom.

Shipping fuel: Obama falling short on exports, but fuel shipments booming

The construction blitz has included Kinder Morgan’s massive oil terminal expansion, which has added 51 storage tanks to its 185-acre Battleground Oil Specialty Terminal Co. project on the Houston Ship Channel, so far.

Fuel drove Houston to become the nation’s top exporter in 2012, for the first time in history. About $110.3 billion in merchandise shipped from the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area in 2012, a nearly 6 percent jump from the year before.

While the total value of U.S. exports grew less than 40 percent between 2010 and 2013, fuel exports grew twice as fast. In January 2010, the United States exported 1.9 million barrels of crude and petroleum products per day. By May 2013, that had surged 83 percent to 3.5 million barrels per day.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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