Exporting U.S. Crude Oil

MODA Midstream partners with Matrix to develop a world-class Gulf Coast export terminal. Read more below or download the article here.

When Moda Midstream acquired the Oxy Ingleside Energy Center (now known as the Moda Ingleside Energy Center. or MIEC) in September 2018, it did so with plans to build on the former owner’s vision for a premier Gulf Coast export terminal capable of safely and efficiently moving large amounts of crude oil and other liquids to global markets. A Texas-based company with deep roots in the Gulf Coast. Moda provides independent terminaling. storage and transportation of bulk liquids such as crude oil, condensate. NGLs and refined products.

Moda knew the Ingleside Energy Center would provide solutions for the logistical challenges and barri­ers faced by producers across the Permian, Eagle Ford, and elsewhere since the U.S. lifted its 40-year ban on crude oil exports in late 2015. Moda also knew that, as a former U.S. Navy base, the center’s sheltered harbor, proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and ability to handle very large vessels made it an ideal choice for a world­class export terminal. Already connected to the Cacrus I Pipeline, MIEC is well-positioned to receive future deliveries from three new long-haul, next-generation pipelines – Cactus H, Gray Oak, and Epic – offering a combined transfer capacity of nearly 2 million barrels per day. Moda recognized it could expand existing storage capac­ity from 2.1 million barrels to 12 million barrels. improve waterfront loading capabilities. and allow berth­ing and loading of very large crude carriers (VLCCs). Moda also knew the MIEC’s position near the mouth of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel would give VLCCs and other larger tankers like Suezmax and Aframax vessels fast access to deep waters and even faster vessel turnaround time.

“The No. I driver for any producer is flow assurance. making sure prod­uct flows from the wellhead to market in the most efficient way possible:· said Moda Executive Vice President and COO Javier del Olmo. “We knew as an independent service provider that we had a real opportunity to cre­ate enhanced value for our customers by offering a safe. reliable, optimal solution for the handling and export of their product. Proper execution would allow us to cater to custom­er needs and ever-changing market dynamics in a quick and efficient manner.

Moda also knew there were chang­es and other enhancements it want­ed to make in order to untap the MIEC’s significant growth poten­tial. But doing so meant modifying tbe original expansion growth plan, construction schedules, and related work already underway.

Fortunately, the from-end load­ing, FEED, and subsequent detailed engineering had been completed by Matrix PDM Engineering, and the primary EPC contractor on-site was Matrix Service, which Moda had worked with on multiple occasions. Matrix had also been the EPC con­tractor on the initial six crude oil storage tanks at MlEC.

“One thing that is evident with Matrix is that they arc real pro­fessionals armed with technical and execution proficiency, and for us. 1ha1 is cri1ical for success.” said def Olmo. “They also recognized our operational expertise in storage and terminaling logistics and were open to alternative viewpoints. That kind of1eamwork is a key charac1eristic we look for in our business partners.’.

Moda Midstream Vice President of Engineering Luis Perez agreed. “There are only a few contractors in 1he world lha1 have the expertise to design and construct what Matrix is executing at this level of profi­ciency,” he said. ·’ They understood our approach and service-oriented alternative design, and together. we came up with solutions focused on terminal flexibility, batching and cus­tomer segregation, and were also able to improve the schedule, all of which supports Moda ·s focus on speed-to­market.”

Positioning for today, planning for tomorrow, partnering for success

Soon after completing the acquisition, Moda met with Matrix to better understand the details of the existing EPC contract and scope of work. Moda shared its perspectives on current and future growth, how it would operate and maintain the facility, and what it needed in order to make the operation as flexible as possible. Moda knew it wanted to add even more storage capac­ity and i1tfastmcture for contracted customer growth and to facilitate addi­tional development.

“The key is to stay ahead of the curve,” said de) Olmo. “We look at how we will stage our growth and we do that in close coordination with our customer base. How we upgrade our terminal and increase capacity is key to addressing now assurance and being able 10 respond to our custom­ers and to growing market demand. If we can do that, then we’ve created value for everybody involved in the logistics chain.”

For Matrix, close cust0mer coor­dination is equally important. Making sure Matrix understands its custom­ers· business issues and partners with them to find solutions is central to the culture and core values that have defined Matrix ·s success. In this case, that culture was even more valuable given the change in ownership and need to quickly incorporate Moda’s vision into the project scope.

The executive team at Moda brought with them extensive expe­rience in developing and operating large-scale liquid storage terminals here in the U.S. and around the world, and with that, they also brought a very clear vision for how they want­ed to approach current and future expansion at Ingleside.” said Matrix Service Vice President of Operations Pat Chambers “… It was imperative that we quickly understood their strategy and operating challenges so that we could work with them to develop solutions to meet or exceed their expectations while minimizing poten­tial impacts to the project schedule.”

Together, Moda and Matrix devel­oped a plan to achieve Moda’s objec­tives, improving both schedule and deliverables while also dramatically increasing s10rage capacity.

“Moda embraced the relationship from the beginning, and together, we worked tirelessly to make the modifi­cations required to meer their flexibil­ity objectives,” said Chambers.

Moda doubled the number of stor­age tanks it asked Matrix to construct, accounting for nearly 7 million bar­rels of the additional storage capacity. The tanks – approximately 210 feet in diameter and 80 feet tall – each have a capacity of 490,000 barrels.
Moda also relied on Matrix for improvements to the MlEC’s deepwa­ter berths. It was highly specialized technical knowledge Matrix PDM Engineering gained through au acqui­sition that brought a longstanding leg­acy of expertise in marine structures.

“The Berth 2A upgrades that Matrix designed and built allow us to have a very safe, efficient means of loading crude oil onto vessels, includ­ing VLCCs.” said del Olmo. “These upgrades are what differentiate this facility from any other.”

Structurally, the upgrades included concrete reinforcement of the bulk­head and placement of fenders and bollards along a 1,364-foot stretch of the wharf to allow for the moor­ing of VLCCs. They also included the addition of gangways and other required infrastructure. Operationally. the upgrades included installation of three 20-inch loading arms capable of pumping 80,000 barrels of crude oil an hour – the highest certified load­ing rate for crude oil anywhere along the Gulf Coast. They also required installation of state-of-the-art vapor destruction equipment. which includ­ed a 20-inch vapor recovery arm. designed to eliminate 99.9 percent of the VOC emissions discharged during loading.

“These modifications, along with our location on the waterfront, mean large vessels. specifically VlCCs. can come into the anchorage area, safely moor and load, and be back out to the Gulf in about one day. which is remarkable,” said del Olmo.

Aframax vessels can already be loaded to full capacity; however, draft restrictions the Corpus Christi channel currently limit loading of Suezmax vessels to 85 percent of volume capacity and VLCCs ro 1.3 million barrels, or 64 percent Once the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project reaches lngleside ( expected by early 2020), the MIEC will be able to fully load Suezmax vessels and increase the payload on VLCCs to 80 percent of volun1e capacity. Once complete, the Corpus Christi channel will be the deepest ship channel in the U.S. Gulf.

Additional waterfront modifica­tions being completed by Matrix will allow for simultaneous loading of 40.000 barrels an hour from each side of the MIBC’s finger pier. This. together with the in1proved loading capabilities at Berth 2A, means up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil an hour can be loaded concurrently across the MlEC-s three deepwater berths.

“It all speaks to flexibility and providing service in a safe, efficient manner, and Matrix has been a key partner in helping us achieve our objectives,” said del Olmo. “It is part of our focus on speed-to-market and ensuring we remain the service provider of choice today and into the future:’

“We are fortunate to have Matrix on-site.” agreed Perez. “They are a great team partner to have working on one of the most important energy projects in recent history.”