Rush to build offshore oil terminals for supertankers accelerates with the reopening of government

Fuel Fix:
With the partial federal government shutdown now ended, two rival projects to build offshore crude oil export terminals near Houston are moving forward.

Enterprise Products Partners LP filed a permit application with the Maritime Administration on Thursday morning seeking federal approval to build Sea Port Oil Terminal, or SPOT, offshore from Brazoria County.

Located about 31 miles from shore and in water about 115 feet deep, SPOT will be able to accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs. The supertankers can carry up to 2 million barrels of crude in a single shipment but are too large to be fully loaded in any U.S. port making building an offshore terminal attractive to exporters.

"We were ready to go with that application a couple of weeks ago and couldn't," Enterprise CEO Jim Teague told investors during a Thursday morning earnings call. "So the minute they opened, we got on the docket and submitted it this morning."

Financial Performance: Enterprise Products Partners closes 2018 with $4.1 billion profit

Enterprise is not alone. A joint venture between Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge, Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan and German shipping company Oiltanking is also seeking to build a similar offshore crude oil export terminal in an area of the south of Freeport.

Known as the Texas Crude Offshore Loading Terminal, or Texas COLT, the project will also accommodate VLCC tankers.
These terminals will likely be fed by the pipelines being built to move oil from the Permian Basin to the Texas Gulf Coast.   It is another example of how the shale boom has changed the dynamics of the oil business and made the US a potential major exporter of oil.  There is already a major widening and deepening of the channel to get large ships into the Port of Corpus Christi.  However, the ships destined for the offshore terminals are even larger.


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