Since the US crude market began to grow only a short time ago, there has been a race to see who can load the most crude in the quickest time into the largest vessels possible along the US Gulf Coast. The stakes are high. Major Asian buyers are looking to load as much oil on to one vessel in order to maximize the economics of their US purchases. But the ports along the Gulf Coast were not built to accommodate the super tankers–Very Large Crude Carriers–which can carry around 2 million barrels of crude. That’s double the amount of the next sizes down Suezmax (1 million barrels) and Aframax (750,000 barrels), both of which can navigate the shallower waters of US ports and can be fully loaded at many facilities. Giant VLCCs are just too big to be fully loaded inside US ports because the water is too shallow to allow a fully-loaded VLCC to pass. For example, the Texas City loading dock along the Houston Ship Channel is 45 feet deep, but a depth of 75 feet is required to accommodate a fully-laden VLCC. As a result, ship-to-ship transfers must be used to complete the loading in deeper water… continue reading
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Source: CTRM Center