Sentinel plans U.S. oil export terminal off Freeport, Texas

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Sentinel Midstream on Monday became the latest contender in the race to build a crude export terminal off the U.S. Gulf Coast, announcing plans to develop a facility off Freeport, Texas that could fully load a supertanker in one day.

The Dallas-based company’s announcement follows seven other proposed crude export terminals vying to build a facility capable of loading a very large crude carrier (VLCC) without relying on smaller vessels to transfer crude cargoes, a process called reverse lightering that adds several days to loading times.

Some executives, traders and analysts said they believe not every proposed terminal project will get built.

Sentinel’s project would include an onshore terminal with 18 million barrels of storage, an offshore pipeline, platform and single-point mooring buoys that will load VLCCs, which carry 2 million barrels, at a rate of 85,000 barrels per hour. The company said it has financial backing from Dallas private equity firm Cresta Fund Management.

Magellan Midstream Partners LP late last month said it is also considering Freeport as a spot to build an offshore crude export terminal, after it began talks with companies developing crude transportation assets there. Magellan is also considering a site near Corpus Christi, Texas.

The current slate of eight projects would have a combined export capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day, more than is currently produced in the United States.

“Right now there may only be enough demand for one project in Corpus and one in the Houston area,” said Perry Schuldhaus, vice president of business development at Enbridge Inc, in an interview on Monday. “It comes down to customer demand.”

Enbridge on Jan. 31 submitted permit applications with the U.S. Maritime Administration to build an offshore export terminal near Freeport that could be in service by early 2022 with storage capacity of 15 million barrels and export capacity of 2 million barrels per day.

Reporting by Collin Eaton; editing by Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker