Louisiana Offshore Oil Port – the largest privately held crude oil logistics facility in the U.S. – announced Monday that it is seeking shippers who would like to use its existing import terminal to export American oil.
LOOP's proposed service would provide connecting logistics from the firm's Clovelly Hub in Galliano to its deepwater port, located about 15 nm off Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The terminal can handle VLCCs, offering economies of scale for American exporters. LOOP says that the facility would require only minor modifications to pump oil in both directions, and the loading service could be available as soon as early 2018.
“Since 1981, LOOP has safely offloaded more than 10 billion barrels of crude oil,” said Tom Shaw, the firm's president. “Today, customers are seeking . . . to safely and efficiently load or offload, which is a natural request for a port. This service offers our customers the scalability to fully load a VLCC."
Since the United States lifted its longstanding ban on crude oil exports in 2015, Gulf coast oil terminals have handing a growing volume of outbound American oil. With U.S. domestic oil production in the range of nine million barrels per day, exports have hit record highs, reaching 1.3 million bpd in June. Many of these shipments have departed on smaller tankers, but LOOP would not be the first to load a VLCC: Occidental's Ingleside terminal in Texas took that record earlier this year.
Sandy Fielden, director of commodities and energy research for Morningstar, endorsed the idea of export loadings at LOOP in an interview with Bloomberg. “LOOP is the most obvious place for U.S. crude exports since as a deepwater port it makes it more manageable to load up a large ship such as a VLCC . . . It makes huge sense from a logistical perspective as it will allow for more efficient cargo shipments," he said.