(Adds details on shipment, terminal)
By Collin Eaton
HOUSTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Moda Midstream LLC, owner of a U.S. Gulf Coast crude export terminal, on Thursday began partially loading the first supertanker at its Ingleside, Texas, facility, the company said.
The Houston-based operator, which purchased the facility from Occidental Petroleum Corp in August, recently installed equipment capable of loading up to 80,000 barrels of crude oil per hour onto Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs, which carry up to 2 million barrels.
At a depth of 47 feet, the waterway near the terminal is deep enough to allow the company to load only 1.2 million barrels onto supertankers. The facility sits near the mouth of a ship channel at Corpus Christi, where local officials are currently negotiating contracts to dredge the channel to a depth of 54 feet to handle larger tankers.
The supertanker was loaded with crude from the Permian Basin, the nation’s largest oil field, located in West Texas and New Mexico. Moda said its customer, which it did not name, is planning a second shipment from the facility this month.
In order to handle VLCCs, Moda installed dock bumpers, a new VLCC loading arm, gangways, pumps and vapor recovery capability at its Ingleside facility.
There are 25 VLCCs set to depart from the United States in December, the highest number since July, carrying 46.6 million barrels, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. (Reporting by Collin Eaton Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler)