Phillips 66 is throwing its hat into the ring to develop a deepwater oil export project in South Texas to carry more Lower 48 volumes overseas.

The company confirmed it is working with the Port of Corpus Christi on a proposed single point mooring (SPM) offshore terminal able to accommodate very large crude carriers, or VLCCs.

The Bluewater Texas Terminal LLC, aka BWTX, would be sited about 21 nautical miles east of the entrance to the port, “out of sight of land,” said Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss.

“The proposed project...would provide an additional safe and environmentally sustainable solution for the export of abundant domestic crude oil supplies from major shale basins to global markets,” Nuss told NGI’s Shale Daily.

“If approved, Phillips 66 would be the operator of the proposed project,” he said. “Phillips 66 has decades of experience safely and responsibly operating similar SPM systems and other marine loading facilities.

“BWTX would provide U.S. oil producers another outlet for their increasing volumes, while also potentially reducing the need for reverse lightering and the environmental impact that those operations have on a regional level.”

Phillips 66 is “working closely with the lead permitting agency,” the U.S. Maritime Administration, or MARAD, “to comply with a rigorous permitting process. We submitted our permit application to MARAD at the end of May.”

Supported by two underwater, 30-inch diameter oil pipelines, BWTX could accommodate VLCCs, supertankers that can transport up to 2 million bbl.

Fully loading a VLCC in the United States now requires multiple ship-to-ship transfers performed in lightering zones out to sea, and only the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, aka LOOP, may accommodate fully loaded supertankers in its lightering zone.

As more oil and gas infrastructure is built to the Texas coast, the Port of Corpus has other proposed export projects in the works, including one in Port Aransas.

The Carlyle Group, which launched its project last fall,  envisions building an export terminal on Harbor Island, which if sanctioned could become the first onshore U.S. location capable of servicing VLCCs.

Carlyle would lead the construction effort and ongoing operations, as well as arrange for private funding for a required dredging project to allow at least a 75-foot main channel depth.

Last August, commodity trader Trafigura Group Pte Ltd. also proposed building a deepwater port near Corpus capable of loading supertankers. The firm has applied for a permit through Trafigura US Inc. subsidiary Texas Gulf Terminals Inc.