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August 7, 2018

Trafigura plans to build first US deepwater oil port

Multinational commodities trader Trafigura has applied for permission to build a deepwater oil port in Texas, US, capable of accommodating supertankers, in order to increase US oil export infrastructure.

By Talal Husseini

Multinational commodities trader Trafigura has applied for permission to build a deepwater oil port in Texas, US, capable of accommodating supertankers, in order to increase US oil export infrastructure.

There are currently no inland ports in the US that can fully load very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – vessels capable of carrying more than two million barrels of oil – and transport is currently done through ship-to-ship transfers.

A Trafigura spokesperson told Offshore Technology: “The Texas Gulf Terminals Project is a new offshore Deep Water Port facility that will allow VLCCs and other tankers to load cargo safely, directly and fully via a single-point mooring buoy system (SPM).

“Using SPMs eliminates unnecessary ship traffic in inland ports as well as the “double handling” of the same crude oil, reducing the opportunity for spills and emissions each time the crude oil is transferred.  Once constructed, this globally-proven technology, will ease infrastructure barriers to crude oil exports, grow the U.S. economy, and support jobs.”

According to the company, the proposed deepwater oil port would include a new onshore terminal connected via a pipeline, close to the Corpus Christi port. The SPM would have a capacity of 500,000 barrels per day (bpd).

The US trades more than two million bpd of crude. Production output reached 11 million bpd for the first time last month, making the US the second largest producer in the world after Russia.

Trafigura US director Corey Prologo said the new port would give US oil producers greater access to VLCCs, “making sure that the industrial and employment advantages of accelerating home crude manufacturing can also be absolutely realised”.

Crude exports from the US resumed in 2016 after a ban was lifted, so while production is rising, the current infrastructure cannot keep up. A prime example of this is the current issue of pipeline bottlenecks in the Permian Basin in Texas.

Trafigura applied for the new deepwater oil port last month through its subsidiary Texas Gulf Terminals. The spokesperson added: “Timing for operations to start is to be decided as we have just begun the permitting process under the Deep Water Port Act.”

The company was considered the largest US crude and condensate exporter in 2017.

Other corporations are said to be exploring similar options, for instance, US-based Endeavor Product Companies said last month it was also designing an offshore terminal in Texas capable of loading one VLCC per day.

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