By Anna Louie Sussman
Sept 30 (Reuters) – Crude oil shipments from the Port of Victoria in south Texas hit a record of over 60,000 barrels per day in August, the port director said on Monday, as more Eagle Ford shippers turn to coastal barges to move oil beyond Houston.
Nearly 1.9 million barrels left Victoria last month, an average of 60,357 barrels per day (bpd) and a rise of nearly 10 percent from July’s 55,000 bpd average, said Jennifer Stastny, executive director of the port. She also said that September “started off very strong.”
The barges, which carry an average of 30,000 barrels, head east along the inland Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) to refineries in Texas and Louisiana. Over 70 barges loaded at Victoria in August.
Steadily rising crude oil production in the nearby Eagle Ford shale basin, around 30 miles (48 km) south of the port, has boosted Victoria’s shipments. Daily output topped 600,000 bpd in the first six months of 2013, nearly five times average daily production in 2011, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas. The oil is currently trucked in to Victoria from the Eagle Ford field.
Shipping by barge allows oil companies to keep their barrels “sovereign,” or unmixed with other grades that flow through pipelines, Stastny said.
“There’s more interest because (energy companies) are realizing, ‘Hey, we don’t have to be captive to the pipeline. We can control our own destiny by putting this on the barges and shipping directly to refineries,'” she said.
The larger port of Corpus Christi, around 100 miles to the south of Victoria, sends out over 100,000 bpd of crude onto the GIWW, a port official said. In August, 495 barge shipments left Corpus Christi, about 85 percent of which were crude oil, a rise of over 10 percent from 446 in July.
Total outbound barrels from Corpus Christi, including on tankers and coastal barges, averaged 367,535 per day in August.
The smaller port of Victoria can handle up to 90,000 bpd, and is adding two new loading slots to bring total capacity up to 150,000 bpd by January 2014, Stastny said.
The first barge of crude oil shipped from Victoria in May 2011. Three midstream companies, GulfMark Energy Inc, Texas Flow Tankage LLC, and Eagle Ford Field Services LLC, (a division of GeoSouthern Energy Corp) lease space at Victoria, where they provide storage and terminal services to oil majors including BP , Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips.
The increased shipments have translated to more revenues for the port, which receives 8 cents per barrel shipped, as well as docking and other fees.
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