LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Global commodities trader Trafigura said on Friday it had formed a joint venture with U.S. refiner Phillips 66 to build a major deepwater port in Texas capable of handling supertankers, ditching its own competing project.
The Bluewater Texas Terminal, which will be located 21 nautical miles east of the entrance to Corpus Christi port, will consist of two single point mooring buoys that can load Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) capable of carrying around 2 million barrels of oil.
Geneva-based Trafigura said it had withdrawn its Texas Gulf Terminals project submitted to the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) in July 2018.
The United States became a crude exporter in early 2016 after a decades-long ban was lifted but infrastructure has lagged behind the country's sky-rocketing shale production.
The U.S. is now the world's biggest crude producer at 13 million barrels per day (bpd) with exports averaging about 3.4 million barrels per day for the last four weeks, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Severe pipeline bottlenecks out of the Permian basin, the biggest in the U.S., have improved with the start of three major pipes last year but export terminals capable of handling supertankers are still in short supply.
A flurry of port projects have been proposed to fix the gap.
Phillips 66, the fourth largest U.S. refiner, first proposed Bluewater terminal in July last year. At the time, at least eight other projects had already been announced.
A final investment decision is expected to be made later this year, the statement added.
U.S. maritime officials suspended Phillips 66's application for a U.S. Gulf Coast deepwater export terminal for additional information in November. (Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)