HOUSTON (Reuters) - Moda Midstream LLC is considering building a second berth at its Ingleside, Texas crude export terminal to accommodate supertankers, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday.
The expansion to the terminal that loads oil tankers will come as three major pipelines open in the second half of this year, CEO Bo McCall said in an interview. Moda is also increasing the facility’s crude storage capacity to 12 million barrels from 2 million.
“When these new pipelines come online, there is going to be close to 3.5 million barrels a day coming into the market,” McCall said. “Demand is very strong. And we’re working very fast.”
Moda will decide if it will modify one of its berths to accommodate supertankers within three months. If the plan goes forward, the company could bring the berth into service in about nine months, McCall said.
Moda is also studying the feasibility of building an additional pier with two more berths, McCall said, which would handle other types of tankers. Once the necessary approvals were received, all the berths could go into use within two years.
The expansion could boost the facility’s export capacity to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) from 1.3 million, McCall added.
U.S. crude exports hit a record 3.36 million bpd in late February, according to the Energy Information Administration, as a shale boom lifted production to 12.1 million bpd.
The United States began exporting crude in 2016 after Congress halted a 40-year-old ban and has become a major supplier to global markets.
McCall said he expects U.S. oil exports to rise sharply after new pipeline projects advanced by Plains All American Pipeline LP, EPIC Crude Pipeline LP and Enbridge Inc start service.
Moda purchased the Ingleside facility from Occidental Petroleum Corp last August. The terminal can partially load very large crude carriers, which have the capacity to carry as much as 2 million barrels of oil.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this year is expected to award a contract to dredge the Corpus Christi ship channel to the Ingleside facility to a depth of 54 feet from 47 feet, which would allow Moda’s loading ability per supertanker to rise to 1.5 million barrels.
Reporting by Collin Eaton and Florence Tan in Houston; editing by Sonya Hepinstall and G Crosse
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