Offshore supertanker port proposed near Freeport Texas

Fuel Fix:
Crude oil from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale may soon have another export option.

A joint venture led by Canadian pipeline and storage terminal company Enbridge is proposing to build an offshore export terminal that will be capable of receiving supertankers in the Gulf of Mexico just south of Freeport.

Enbridge, Houston-based pipeline operator Kinder Morgan and Hamburg, Germany-based storage tank company Oiltanking are proposing to build the Texas COLT Offshore Loading Terminal about 40 miles offshore.

The proposed terminal will require approval by federal regulators, but early plans show that the facility will be supported by an underwater pipeline. If approved and completed, the terminal will be able to receive and fully load Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs, which can carry up to 2 million barrels of oil.

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Under current plans, the Texas COLT terminal will receive domestically produced light sweet crude oil from three onshore pipelines including the Gray Oak Pipeline — a venture by Enbridge, Phillips 66 Partners and Marathon Oil Corp. that is expected to be in service later this year. The Gray Oak Pipeline is designed to move 900,000 barrels of crude per day from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale to Freeport and three other destinations along the Texas Gulf Coast.

"Supply access will be critical to the success of this facility, and we plan superior connectivity to key supply basins and storage facilities," Enbridge Executive Vice President D. Guy Jarvis said about the Texas COLT project during a Dec. 11 investors call. "It's clearly a competitive environment when it comes to developing export options, but we're confident with our position. We have the capabilities amongst our partners to construct and operate this facility, there's strong interest from a broad base of potential customers, and a plan is in place that targets an in-service date as early as late 2021 or early in 2022."
Similar proposals have been made for facilities near Corpus Christi and Galveston.  The big tankers require at least 66 feet of water underneath them and most ship channels on the Texas Coast are around 45 feet deep, however, the Corpus Christi Channel is being deepened and widened, but still would not have that depth.  These huge tankers offer economies of scale for transporting crude.  What seems clear is the infrastructure will be in place in the coming months to vastly increase the production from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford formations.


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