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Lone Star Ports LLC, backed by Carlyle Group, will be seeking a faster-track approval from the U.S. Administration for its project to build the first U.S. onshore export terminal capable of servicing supertankers on an island near Corpus Christi, officials tell Reuters.
Lone Star Ports plans to build the terminal on the Harbor Island as U.S. oil production continues to grow, while current oil export infrastructure is insufficient to handle growing crude exports. The planned terminal will be able to service full-laden Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC)—the so-called supertankers with the ability to carry up to 2 million barrels of crude oil each.
Lone Star Ports plans to file documents this week with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), asking to join a list of infrastructure projects that could be fast-tracked through local, state, and federal reviews.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has recommended an environmental impact assessment review of the project, which could take two years or more. Carlyle has been hoping to be able to proceed with the project after a shorter review, or environmental assessment, which could take less than a year.
“To have clarity on timing is extremely helpful for us,” Jeremiah “Jerry” Ashcroft, CEO at Lone Star Ports, told Reuters, adding that if the project were added to priority infrastructure projects, the dredging of the ship channel is more likely to move forward.
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Lone Star Ports and Carlyle are yet to make a final investment decision on the export terminal project.
In March this year, the Port of Corpus Christi Commission approved a 50-year lease agreement with Lone Star Ports for around 200 acres on Harbor Island to develop the oil export terminal. The previous month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had awarded the first dredging contract for the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project to deepen the channel to a depth of 56’ from the Channel entrance to Harbor Island, and a planned depth of 54’ throughout the rest of the harbor.
The ability to handle supertankers is expected to be a key asset for any future export terminal, considering that U.S. crude oil exports have been steadily growing in recent months.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.