NEW YORK (Reuters) - Enterprise Products Partners LP said on Thursday it is testing crude supertanker capabilities at its Texas City dock in a move that could make it the second major company in the United States that can handle such vessels.
The United States lifted a 40-year ban on oil exports in late 2015 and since then tankers filled with U.S. crude have landed in more than 30 countries. Weekly exports of crude oil surged to a record 2.3 million barrels per day last week, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
The Nave Quasar, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), is berthed just off Texas City, according to two shipping sources and Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data.
“The arrival of the Nave Quasar at our Texas City dock is part of a test run to confirm that the facility can accommodate a VLCC ship,” Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey said in an emailed statement.
“We will be evaluating today’s test to determine a path forward for possible VLCC loadings in the future.”
VLCCs are the largest oil tankers and can ship some 2 million barrels of oil. So far, only Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, can handle incoming VLCCs.
Most U.S. shipping channels are too shallow, although Port Corpus Christi, Texas, is deepening its channel to accommodate large vessels.
LOOP has also been testing loading and unloading of supertankers, bringing it closer to being able to ramp up exports of U.S. crude oil.
Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish