The Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has approved a new project that will see the country’s biggest oil export terminal built about 30 miles off the coast of Texas.
The new offshore terminal will boost the United States’ capacity for exporting oil by some 2 million barrels per day, and it is the first of four potential terminals on the Gulf Coast of Texas to secure approval. Since 2015, when the country began allowing crude oil to be sold overseas, exports have risen rapidly as the country’s domestic oil production has increased overall.
The Maritime Administration justified the building of the new port in its 94-page decision:
“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.”
The increased export capacity will allow US shale operators like ExxonMobil, the maker of Mobil SHC gear oil, to continue growing their shale production. A spokesperson for the Maritime Administration also said the project would allow oil to be exported more safely and efficiently compared to existing processes and facilities. Relatively small tankers currently need to ferry crude oil from depots on the coast to supertankers waiting miles offshore in deeper water.
Nevertheless, some have criticised the decision as conflicting with the US Administration’s plan to drastically cut carbon emissions by the end of the decade.