Port of Corpus Christi hosts Gulf's largest-ever oil tanker


(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) — The Port Corpus Christi welcomed the arrival of a very large crude carrier (VLCC), the largest oil tanker ever to call on a Gulf of Mexico Port late last month. The ship docked safely at the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center (OIEC) export terminal on May 26, the first crude oil export facility in the U.S. to receive such a large vessel.

The arrival of the VLCC reflects the port’s commitment to becoming a major exporter of Permian Basin crude and securing the infrastructure necessary to do so. Occidental Petroleum Corp. is using the visit for operational planning in preparation to regularly load VLCCs in the future from its oil export terminal.

The VLCC, a ship named Anne owned by the Belgium-based Euronav, is a 1,093-foot-long vessel capable of holding over 2 million barrels of oil. When fully laden a VLCC requires a draft of 66 feet.  Ship channel depth at Port Corpus Christi is at 47’ Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), which would require a partial load of the VLCC, and an accompanying vessel to fill the remaining cargo once offshore. Current VLCC operations require multiple smaller vessels to transport product offshore for loading. Loading these megatankers at Occidental’s OIEC export terminal will provide significant cost and time savings.

As global demand for U.S. crude oil continues to increase, Port Corpus Christi remains a frontrunner in supplying the export market. When the U.S. oil export restrictions were lifted at the end of 2015 the first export cargo of U.S. crude oil in nearly forty years sailed aboard the tanker, Theo T, from the South Texas port. Further benchmarking the U.S. crude export trend, a single vessel load record was set at Port Corpus Christi in April 2017, when 930,000 barrels of crude oil was loaded to the Suezmax class Cap Romuald.

“With a vision to be the Energy Port of the Americas, it is fitting for yet another milestone in U.S. crude exports to be set at our port.  As the first VLCC class vessel to call on any Gulf of Mexico port enters our Port Corpus Christi waterways, we are further assured of the importance in continuing infrastructure enhancements, and further deepening our ship channels,” said Charles W. Zahn, Chairman of the Port Corpus Christi Commission, in a statement.

Pilots from the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots were on board Anne during its recent port call. 

"We are very excited to have conducted the successful transit of the first VLCC for export of American crude oil," said Capt. Jay Rivera, president officer for the  Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots. "This was possible due the combined efforts of our partners at Occidental Petroleum, Signet Maritime, and the Port of Corpus Christi Authority. Due to the quality of simulation training provided by the Seamen's Church Institute in Houston and the shiphandling skills of the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots, we were able to prove that VLCCs can be safely and efficiently handled in our port."

By Professional Mariner Staff