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Top U.S. oil-export port launches search for new CEO

By Arathy Somasekhar

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Officials at the Port of Corpus Christi, the largest U.S. oil-export port by volume, on Wednesday said they intend to appoint an interim chief soon and to begin a search for a new CEO.

The move comes a day after Sean Strawbridge, the port's CEO since 2018, resigned at a commission meeting where he was questioned about his business expenses.

"All of my expenses to my knowledge are compliant with port policy and state statutes, and have all cleared the internal review process and approval process," Strawbridge said in a Reuters interview.

His resignation has been "in the works for a while," said Strawbridge, who called it "purely a personal decision."

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Port commissioners did not reply to requests for comment.

Strawbridge, whose resignation is effective June 2, grew the port's operating revenue by 76.5% to $162.3 million between 2017 and 2022, while operating expenses climbed 29%, according to official summaries.

During his tenure, the port launched a project to deepen and widen the ship channel to the port, expanded its role in liquefied natural gas exports, and this year applied to become a hydrogen hub under a Department of Energy grant program.

"I am leaving the institution in a much better condition than when I arrived," Strawbridge said.

The Port of Corpus Christi Commission approved a separation agreement and severance package, officials said in Wednesday's statement. Strawbridge declined to discuss terms of his separation agreement.

"I have spent a fair amount of my career in the private equity world," Strawbridge said, adding he expects to seek work as an advisor to infrastructure funds.

(Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston; Editing by Marguerita Choy)