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Oxy to complete Corpus Christi VLCC loading facility by end 2018

Highlights


Major expansion planned for Ingleside crude loading, storage facility

VLCC loadings will result in 75 cents/b cost savings for exporters

Crude exports out of Corpus Christi to hit 1 million b/d by 2020

Midland, Texas — Occidental Petroleum is aiming to complete by late 2018 a project to install multiple loading arms at its crude storage facility at Corpus Christi, Texas, allowing it to load VLCCs on a regular basis, Vice President for Midstream Terry Morrison said Friday.

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"With a current draft of 45 feet at the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, that project will allow us to load a VLCC with 1.2 million barrels to 1.4 million barrels at our Ingleside Energy Center facility," Morrison said on the sidelines of the Energy Exchange Conference in Midland.

At a greater water depth of some 66 feet and more, Oxy will be able to fully load a VLCC with a capacity of 2 million barrels, he said.

In late May, a VLCC was brought to Oxy's Ingleside crude terminal so that the company could assess any modifications that may be needed so that it can regularly load VLCCs at the Occidental Ingleside Energy Center in the future.



The VLCC Anne was chartered by Oxy and it successfully sailed out, said Sean Strawbridge, chief operating officer of the Port of Corpus Christi Authority.

"The super tanker could not be fully loaded due to the lack of draft at the ship channel," Strawbridge said, adding that under an expansion program unveiled recently, the loading of VLCCs on a regular basis would result in transportation cost savings of at least 75 cents/b. In late August, the PCCA and the US Army Corps of Engineers said they will jointly invest $327 million to deepen the port through an extensive dredging program to 54 feet from the current 45 feet and also expand the width of the channel entrance at Ingleside and Corpus Christi to 530 feet from 500 feet and 400 feet, respectively.

In addition, the agency is also pursuing the construction of a new bridge at a cost of $800 million, which will allow for vertical entrance of up to 205 feet, compared with the current clearance of 138 feet.

"Our expansion program will take four years and will focus on the 36-mile ship channel that will open up the doors for more crude exports from Corpus Christi, PCCA Chairman Charles Zahn said on the sidelines of the event.

The maximum fully loaded vessel that the channel can now handle is an Aframax (about 750,000 barrels), Zahn said, noting once the expansion is complete, the channel will be able to handle fully loaded Suezmax tankers with capacity of 1 million barrels.


OXY PLANS CAPACITY INCREASE AT INGLESIDE


Besides serving its own needs to export crude, Oxy is also working on another project that will substantially increase the capacity of its Ingleside terminal, Morrison said while addressing the conference.

The company has yet to receive board approval for the project, but its plans are to increase crude loading and crude storage capacity to 750,000 b/d and 7.5 million barrels from the current 300,000 b/d and 2.1 million barrels, Morrison said.

"We see new investments in crude storage and loading facilities at Corpus Christi," Zahn said, with total crude and condensate exports reaching 1.088 million b/d by 2020.

Under a "high-case" scenario, crude and condensate exports from the Port of Corpus Christi are estimated to be 424,000 b/d this year, increasing to 780,000 b/d in 2018 and 959,000 b/d in 2019, Zahn said.

Strawbridge described a high-case scenario as one in which at least two new long-haul pipelines are built from the Permian Basin in Texas to the port by 2020.

Leading midstream players -- Plains All American, Magellan and Buckeye -- are planning the construction of the Cactus II pipeline, the South Texas Gateway pipeline, and an as yet unnamed project that will add some 1.5 million b/d of new takeaway from the Permian Basin by 2020.

The growth in US shale production will likely result in 2 million b/d to 3 million b/d of exports by 2021, with nearly one-third destined for Asia, Morrison said.

While US refiners will need about 1 million b/d of the lighter barrels, exports will also flow north to Canada, Europe and Latin America, Morrison said.

The US exported 940,000 b/d of crude oil to international markets during the first five months of 2017, 82%, or 420,000 b/d, more than the 2016 average, according to the PIRA Energy Group, a unit of S&P Global Platts.

Nearly 700,000 b/d of this was sent from the US Gulf Coast, it said.

The USGC has a total capacity to export 2.71 million b/d through 22 active terminals at Greater Houston, Nederland/Beaumont, Corpus Christi/Brownsville and Louisiana, the PIRA report said.

PIRA believes Corpus Christi is positioned to become an increasingly prominent area for US exports. Its proximity to the Eagle Ford and the projected pipeline expansions connecting it to the Permian offer it access to cheap supplies.

--Ashok Dutta, ashok.dutta@spglobal.com

--Edited by Annie Siebert, ann.siebert@spglobal.com