Enterprise’s SPOT Offshore Project Receives Milestone Decision

Member Updates, Port Bureau News,

To be located just off the coast of Brazoria County, Texas, Enterprise Products’ SPOT is one of the world’s most environmentally focused energy infrastructure projects.

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (“Enterprise”) is one of the leading North American providers of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, NGLs, crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals.

On November 21, 2022, the company received its Record of Decision (“ROD”) from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration in accordance with the provisions of the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 for their Sea Port Oil Terminal (“SPOT”) project. The receipt of the ROD is a significant milestone in the process to obtain a license for SPOT under the Deepwater Port Act. SPOT must comply with state and federal permitting, mitigation, and related requirements outlined in this Record of Decision before a license can be issued and SPOT can begin construction of the proposed deepwater port.

The proposed SPOT project is comprised of a fixed platform, deepwater port marine terminal in the Gulf of Mexico that will be manned and connected to an onshore crude oil storage facility (“OysterCreek Terminal”)  with approximately 4.8 million barrels of capacity in Brazoria County, Texas. The Oyster Creek Terminal will be constructed about 2.5 miles northeast of Lake Jackson, Texas, and four miles southeast of Angleton, Texas. The platform will be located approximately 30 nautical miles off the coast of Texas in approximately 115-feet of water. The platform will be connected to the onshore storage facility (“ECHO Terminal”) by two 36-inch, bi-directional pipelines and located in federal waters.  The dual pipelines will allow crude oil to be emptied within 24 hours in case of hurricane.  SPOT will consist of a fixed offshore platform with a laydown deck, main deck, living quarters and  other ancillary equipment. SPOT is designed to load Very Large Crude Carriers (“VLCC”) and other crude oil tankers at rates up to 85,000 barrels per hour.

SPOT is one of the world’s most environmentally focused energy infrastructure projects that includes state-of-the-art pipeline control, vapor recovery and leak detection systems. SPOT is designed to reduce carbon dioxide and volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions by approximately 65 percent and 94 percent, respectively, compared to current industry practices. It also significantly reduces spill and collision risk and enhances overall maritime safety by eliminating the current routine of ship-to-ship oil transfers at sea.

This project would support as many 1,400 temporary jobs during construction while the project operations would generate 62 permanent jobs in onshore/offshore facilities over the 30 years life of the project.

Enterprise has begun work to satisfy the remaining conditions to obtain the deepwater port license in 2023. Remaining conditions include routine construction, operating and decommissioning guarantees, submission of public outreach, wetland restoration and VOC monitoring plans, and other state approvals. The Maritime Administration has indicated it will work with SPOT to address and satisfy the conditions of approval for the issuance of the license.

The Maritime Administration and U.S. Coast Guard led the comprehensive, almost four-year environmental review of this project. The ROD includes reviews by more than a dozen federal governmental agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as reviews and approvals by the state of Texas. Highlighted below, are some of the notable findings from the ROD:

  • The construction and operation of the port is in the national interest because the project will benefit employment, economic growth, and U.S. energy infrastructure resilience and security. The port will provide a reliable source of crude oil to U.S. allies in the event of market disruption and have a minimal impact on the availability and cost of crude oil in the U.S. domestic market. Construction and operation of an offshore export terminal and the installation of a vapor combustion system at the DWP will reduce the number of ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil and lessen emissions from conventional crude oil loading, thus providing a more efficient, less impactful crude oil transport facility within the offshore waters of the United States. 
  • The project will be constructed and operated using the best available technology. Operating safety and control features of the project will include autonomous shutdown valves, HIPPs, fire and gas detection, emergency shutdown and safety controls, and process control systems.

While a portion of the crude oil produced by the U.S. is refined for domestic use, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the U.S. will be a net petroleum exporter from 2024 to 2050. High export levels are driven by less consumption of liquid fuels in the U.S. as well as the production of crude oil grades that cannot be processed economically by U.S. refineries. Along with the lifting of the crude oil export ban in 2015, these developments have increased interest in the development of offshore deepwater ports for exporting U.S.-produced crude oil.