The Texas Gulf Terminals Project (TGTP) is a new facility that will provide a safe, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure solution for the export of U.S. crude oil from an offshore mooring point. TGTP is expected to handle about 10 percent of the expected growth in U.S. oil production, complementing additional infrastructure investments in the area.
The project will allow large vessels to load cargo safely, directly, and fully via a single point mooring buoy system (SPM) in the Gulf of Mexico. SPM’s are anchored offshore and connected to an onshore facility through subsea pipelines. They are controlled from an onshore control center and serve as a connection point linking onshore facilities with large offshore vessels like Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs).
While SPM’s are commonly found in oil-producing countries, they are less familiar to the domestic energy industry in the U.S. The best example of SPM technology in the U.S is LOOP (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port). As the U.S. now becomes an important oil-exporting nation following the lifting of the crude oil ban, TGTI believes SPM’s are required as a critical means to address infrastructure bottlenecks that restrict oil production and impede economic growth. There are more than 500 SPM’s worldwide, including off the coast of the Americas and Europe, in the Baltic, North and Norwegian Seas, in the Arabian Gulf, and Asia. More background information on SPM’s can be found in our Briefing Paper.
TGTP’s proposed facility consists of (1) a new onshore storage terminal facility that stores crude oil ready for loading; (2) approximately 12 miles of onshore and inshore pipelines and 14.7 miles of offshore pipeline to transport the crude oil to the SPM; and (3) an SPM buoy off the coast of North Padre Island.
The SPM will be anchored in approximately 93 feet of water, making the buoy accessible to VLCCs, one of the largest types of operating cargo vessel in the world. These vessels can only be loaded in depths of approximately 71 feet or greater, making entry to many U.S. ports difficult as most U.S ports can only accommodate 45 feet draft. Carrying approximately 2,000,000 barrels, VLCCs measure approximately 1,100 feet (ft.) in length and 200 feet. in width. Given this significant scale advantage versus the rest of the tanker fleet, a VLCC is the most economical form of waterborne crude oil transportation used globally. It is currently impossible to fully load a VLCC in the Texas Gulf. The proposed SPM will be capable of fully and safely loading VLCC capacities in approximately 48 hours including vessel approach, mooring, cargo transfer, unmooring, and vessel departure.
Texas Gulf Terminals submitted an application to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) in July 2018. The project construction timeline is estimated to be 18 months following the award of a permit by the MARAD, with construction projected to occur in five stages with onshore and offshore activities pursued concurrently.
It is estimated that the oil and natural gas industry supports 10.3 million U.S jobs and approximately 8 percent of the U.S economy. Once constructed, the Texas Gulf Terminals project will contribute towards this figure by easing infrastructure barriers for crude oil exports.