What is believed to be the first light crude oil shipment exported from the U.S. in 40 years departed Dec. 31 from Corpus Christi, Texas.

NuStar Energy and ConocoPhillips said they loaded the Bahamian-flagged Theo T with light crude oil at NuStar's North Beach Terminal at the Port of Corpus Christi. The product was sold by Houston-based ConocoPhillips to the international trading company Vitol, and the tanker is bound for Italy, according to AIS data. The transaction was made possible by the repeal of the oil export ban last month. NuStar and ConocoPhillips say they believe it is the nation's first export cargo of U.S.-produced light crude oil since the 40-year export ban was lifted on Dec. 18.

In late December, Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners announced that it would load 600,000 bbls. of crude onto a tanker in Houston for departure the first week of January. That oil also was also sold to Switzerland-based Vitol.

In a statement, the port indicated that it was positioning itself to handle a greater volume of exports.

“Infrastructure improvements at Port Corpus Christi have placed our port in a unique position as a critical component in the export of U.S. crude and condensate," said said John LaRue, the port's executive director. "Port Corpus Christi’s deep-draft ship channel and strategic location to some of the largest production areas in the U.S. provides a secure and competitive supply chain to markets worldwide. Future capital improvements including deepening the ship channel will accommodate larger vessels that are required to cost effectively supply U.S. crude oil to global markets."

NuStar also has expansion plans at the port.

“We plan on further expanding our Corpus Christi operations to provide more options to our customers to move Eagle Ford Shale crude oil, whether it is being moved domestically or internationally,” said CEO Brad Barron. “In fact, we are currently in the process of developing a second private dock in the Port of Corpus Christi.”