(Adds details on terminal)
Oct 29 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group said on Monday it signed an exclusive agreement with the Port of Corpus Christi, the top oil export hub in the United States, to develop an offshore crude export terminal to load the world's largest tankers.
The terminal, proposed for Harbor Island, would be the first onshore location in the United States capable of providing export loadings of fully-laden Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) capable of hauling up to 2 million barrels, the company said.
Carlyle's announcement comes as infrastructure in the U.S. oil industry struggles to keep up with record levels of production, driven by the Permian shale patch in West Texas. Both international buyers and American producers are waiting for export capacity to increase.
Corpus Christi has its own plan to expand operations to handle larger export tankers. Commodities trader Trafigura Ltd is developing its own port about 15 miles off Corpus Christi that would handle vessels able to fully load two million barrels of oil.
Carlyle said it would arrange private funding to dredge the waters near Harbor Island to allow access to crude carriers. (bit.ly/2qoBEDX)
The terminal is expected to be operational in late 2020.
It would include the development of at least two loading docks on Harbor Island as well as crude oil tank storage inland across Redfish Bay on land secured by Carlyle. (Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Susan Thomas)