Enterprise receives approval to build Texas deepwater oil port as exports soar

Lucia Kassai, Bloomberg April 09, 2024

(Bloomberg) – Enterprise Products Partners overcame the last regulatory hurdle to build a proposed deepwater oil port off the coast of Texas aimed at helping record oil exports to flow to markets in Asia and Europe.

The United States Maritime Administration issued a license for the Sea Port Oil Terminal, which will allow Enterprise to move forward with construction of the terminal, the Houston-based company said in a statement Tuesday. The SPOT terminal will be only the fourth in the U.S. to load supertankers, the ships that make long-haul voyages to clients in Asia more economical.

“Receipt of the deepwater port license from MARAD is obviously a very important milestone,” spokesperson Rick Rainey said in a separate statement. “However we are still in the process of commercializing the project and won’t have an estimate on the timing for construction until we make a final investment decision regarding the development of SPOT.”

U.S. daily oil exports more than doubled in the past five years to about 4 MMbbl, well below capacity of 7.1 MMbbl. Most of the existing terminals are able to handle only small ships, while SPOT will be able to handle supertankers, putting smaller terminals in a bind once it starts service.

The terminal, which was initially proposed in 2019, faced several delays along the way, including opposition from environmental groups and a pandemic. Located 30 nautical miles off the coast of Brazoria County, Texas, the planned port would have the capacity to handle 2 MMbbl of oil exports a day, 24 hours per day. Bidirectional pipelines would connect to a new terminal, to be built 10 miles inland. The Oyster Creek terminal would be connected to Enterprise’s Houston ECHO terminal.

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