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Corpus Christi oil export terminal plans take shape, with pipelines signing on

A Carlyle Group LP joint venture will lead the development of an oil export terminal proposed with the Port of Corpus Christi. The venture lined up pipeline inputs to the project, which is part of a wave of plans to bring the world's biggest oil tankers to more U.S. ports.

Lone Star Ports LLC, Carlyle's joint venture with Berry Contracting LP, will lead the Harbor Island terminal's development, while crude pipelines owned by Epic Midstream Holdings LP and Harvest Midstream Co. will interconnect with the Texas Gulf Coast facility to provide more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from Texas' Permian Basin and Eagle Ford shale, according to a Dec. 14 statement.

Epic Midstream's 590,000-bbl/d Epic pipeline to refining and export markets in the Corpus Christi area is anticipated to come online by the second half of 2019.

Martin Midstream Partners LP will work with Lone Star Ports to "provide a single, integrated ... solution" for accommodating very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, the Port of Corpus Christi added. The agreements with Martin Midstream, Epic Midstream and Harvest Midstream remain subject to definitive documentation, due diligence and final approval by each party.

The terminal is expected to begin operating in late 2020 and involves a dredging project that would bring the main channel to a 75-foot depth to enable fully laden VLCCs to sail from Harbor Island.

The details came just days after Enbridge Inc., Kinder Morgan Inc. and international logistics company Oiltanking GmbH announced their own plan to build a VLCC loading terminal offshore Freeport, Texas, as the race to export growing U.S. crude volumes heats up.

For now, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is the only facility in the U.S. capable of handling fully loaded VLCCs.