Eagle Ford Shale crude oil producers now have a new option for transportation as NuStar Energy LP has completed construction of its private marine loading dock at its North Beach Terminal in Corpus Christi, TX, and has its first ship at the dock to be loaded with crude oil.

Originally scheduled to be completed in the second quarter, NuStar said it expedited the project in order to meet strong customer interest in using the dock to transport shipments of Eagle Ford crude oil by water. NuStar now has three loading docks in the Port of Corpus Christi and can load crude oil onto ships simultaneously on all three. NuStar also completed major additions and upgrades to the terminal’s pump systems. With all of these upgrades, the North Beach terminal’s marine loading capacity was more than tripled to 400,000 b/d.

“The addition of the new dock and the related upgrades to our systems are critical to our Eagle Ford Shale strategy as it gives our customers even more options to move Eagle Ford crude by water,” said NuStar CEO Brad Barron. “This additional capacity enables us to handle all of the new volumes associated with our ongoing expansion efforts in our South Texas crude oil pipeline system, as well as additional volumes shipped on our pipeline systems to Corpus Christi.

NuStar's new dock project includes a series of 30- and 12-inch diameter pipelines that move the crude oil from incoming pipelines or tanks within the terminal to the new dock, a metering system, vapor control system, and a dock structure with three loading arms. The dock system is designed to load Panamax-class vessels (which carry between 350,000 and 500,000 bbl) at rates up to 30,000 bbl per hour.

The NuStar loading dock is the latest in a string of projects at Corpus Christi aimed at transporting Eagle Ford production to markets. Also on Thursday, Magellan Midstream Partners and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners said their 195-mile Double Eagle Pipeline, designed to deliver Eagle Ford Shale condensate to Corpus Christi, is in full operation (see Shale Daily, Feb. 13).