January 13, 2020 [S&P Global Platts] – US Gulf Coast competition to build VLCC-capable oil export terminals narrowed Tuesday when Enbridge withdrew its application to build the Texas COLT port off Freeport, Texas, as it shifts focus to jointly develop a nearby port with Enterprise Products Partners.
Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said the company was seeking customers to fully subscribe export capacity for Enterprise’s proposed Sea Port Oil Terminal offshore Houston. “Enbridge will consider re-filing the application in the future should market demand for additional export capacity grow in the future,” Barnes added.
US crude exports averaged 2.9 million b/d from January through November, surging 45% from a year earlier, according to the latest monthly US Census Bureau data released Tuesday.
Houston was by far the busiest port for US crude exports in January-November, handling about 831,000 b/d, followed by Corpus Christi with 705,000 b/d and Beaumont with 540,000 b/d, according to the monthly Census data.
Enbridge and Enterprise announced plans to jointly develop SPOT in early December, but Enbridge had not yet announced its plan to withdraw the Texas COLT application.
The companies are 50-50 partners in the 850,000 b/d Seaway Pipeline system that moves US and Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast. Seaway announced in November an open season to gauge interest in expanding capacity by 200,000 b/d.
Enbridge is planning to build a new 15-million-barrel storage terminal at Jones Creek, where Seaway ends, providing access to Houston-area refineries and existing and future export facilities.
The SPOT single-point mooring buoy system off Brazoria County would be able to fully load two VLCCs at a time at an overall rate of 2 million b/d, according to Enterprise’s application to the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. Enterprise made a final investment decision on the project in July after securing long-term agreements with Chevron, including unspecified transport and storage at Enterprise’s 8.3 million-barrel ECHO terminal in Houston.
Enterprise has said the port will have access to over 6 million b/d of crude supply and more than 300 million barrels of storage, of which nearly 50 million is owned by Enterprise.
Only one Gulf of Mexico port, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, can currently fully load VLCCs without lightering from smaller vessels.
Nine VLCC-capable projects were at one time competing to move the next wave of US crude exports with deepwater ports off Houston, Corpus Christi and southeast Louisiana. The field has narrowed to six or seven.
Enterprise has said it expects to receive a federal permit for SPOT in the second quarter of 2020, with construction taking up to two years.
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