Ingleside could be first supertanker dock in U.S.

The Oxy Ingleside Energy Center Terminal in the Corpus Christi Channel, where Occidental Petroleum Corp. will test whether a 1,093-foot supertanker capable of holding 2 million barrels of oil can dock and at least partially load there. Courtesy photo

An Ingleside onshore ship terminal could become the first in the United States to receive massive supertankers — if the facility passes a test expected at the end of this month. Occidental Petroleum Corp. will attempt to bring in Anne, a massive supertanker, May 22 to see if the facility can handle docking and loading such a massive vessel.

These tankers, which are even too large to fit through the newly expanded Panama Canal, are loaded offshore at other U.S. ports because of their size. Capable of holding more than 2 million barrels of oil, they will sail around Africa to get to growing Asian markets.

Occidental is the largest oil producer in the Permian Basin shale play, where production is expected to hit 2.4 million barrels a day this May.

Whether its Ingleside docks can handle a ship that is 1,093 feet long while navigating strong currents and heavy winds will be tested by the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots Association. It will need to prove Anne can clear bottom in the Corpus Christi Channel once it is at least partially loaded.

Because the ship would require clearance of 66 feet fully loaded — and the channel is only 45 feet deep — it will be partially loaded on dock then filled offshore by a smaller tanker making several trips. Being only partially filled dockside will save 75 cents per barrel in transportation costs, experts said.

Occidental will also have to engineer where to install loading arms and tie points on the dock for vessels of that size. An 820-foot tanker successfully filled up at the Ingleside terminal this week.

The company recently has been moving 250,000 barrels a day of Permian crude out of the Ingleside port.

In preparation for tankers like Anne, which are becoming the ships of choice by companies working to meet the world’s demand for oil and gas, the Port of Corpus Christi has plans to dredge the channel to 52 feet sometime in the next five years.

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