Corpus Christi Port Authority Partners Announce Deepwater Port Project ‘Bluewater Texas’
Feature Photo (above): A super tanker tethered to a single point mooring buoy in the LOOP LLC system. Courtesy: LOOP LLC.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — Phillips 66 and Trafigura Group pte. Ltd. announced today the formation of a 50-50 joint venture to build an offshore deepwater port about 21 miles from the Port of Corpus Christi.
The deepwater port, Bluewater Texas Terminal LLC, will consist of two single point mooring buoys that will allow for the safe and environmentally responsible loading of crude tankers, including Very Large Crude Carriers or “VLCCs,” the joint press statement said.
Phillips 66 submitted its application to Maritime Administration (MARAD) for a Deepwater Port License under the Bluewater Texas franchise in mid-2019.
Trafigura had its own application for a deepwater port license, submitted mid-2018, but withdraw it to join forces with the Phillips project. The Trafigura application, named Texas Gulf Terminals, would have been located 12.7 nautical miles east of the Padre Island National Seashore. The reduction in SPM projects has occurred in other areas of the Texas coast, likely as a measure of capital discipline and market forces.
Approximate location of the proposed Bluewater Texas Terminal.
“We salute Phillips 66 and Trafigura for agreeing to partner in a single point mooring export facility, and for recognizing the Port as an integral part of the success of this ambitious yet much needed capability,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO for the Port of Corpus Christi.
The Port of Corpus Christi, a public agency, will work in close collaboration with Bluewater Texas and its representatives to support this environmentally sustainable infrastructure for the export of crude oil to global markets while benefiting the regional economy.
The Port intends to lease land and rights-of-way in support of the venture. A single point mooring buoy system is a small buoy that is anchored offshore. It is controlled from an onshore control center that pumps crude to the VLCC through pipeline infrastructure placed on the seabed. The first SMP system abel for fully load a VLCC was the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP LLC).
The LOOP offshore deepwater port network of Louisiana. Courtesy: LOOP LLC.
“The Port of Corpus Christi welcomes Phillips 66 and Trafigura. This project is indicative of the need for additional U.S. and Texas energy export infrastructure and we couldn’t be more thrilled by these two reputable companies joining forces,” said Charles W. Zahn, Jr., Port of Corpus Christi Authority commission chairman.
The Trafigura application was opposed by the Port of Corpus Christi, which filed a letter requesting a delay. The port’s stated concern was that Trafigura was not providing information about its affiliates and the company had a criminal history; Trafigura pleaded guilty in 2006 to selling oil on Iraq’s behalf by falsely claiming it came from the UN Oil-for-Food program.
Trafigura is a global, privately-held physical commodity trading and logistics company with offices in Houston, Texas and is one of the Port of Corpus Christi’s largest users of its facilities. Houston-based Phillips 66 is an experienced operator of SPMs, having operated such a facility in the United Kingdom since the early 1970’s.
The Port of Corpus Christi earns millions of dollars from high-volume crude oil exports.
There are convention inland ports–South Sabine Point and Southtex–that load crude, but no U.S. inland port is capable of fully loading a VLCC, which are tankers that can carry up to 2 million barrels per voyage.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.