Deepwater Oil Facility Off Texas Coast Forges Ahead

Deepwater Oil Facility Off Texas Coast Forges Ahead
Photo by Maria Lupan / Unsplash

This week a proposed deepwater oil-export facility that would be built just off the Gulf Coast near Brazoria County in Texas took major steps forward, against the wishes of several environmental groups.

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. originally filed for the permits to start building the Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) in January 2019. According to Enterprise the offshore platform would be situated thirty nautical miles from shore in Texas. SPOT, which would be the largest offshore export terminal in the nation, would drill, extract, and process crude oil and natural gases that exist beneath the seabed.

Last year the environmental organization the Sierra Club, along with several other coalition partners, sued the Department of Transportation over SPOT’s permitting. They argued that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) did not sufficiently account for the potential damage such a large offshore facility could do when it comes to pollution, increasing fossil fuels, and the overall health of the Gulf Coast.

Earlier this month the Fifth Circuit upheld the approval of the permitting for SPOT. That decision was blasted by the Sierra Club and other partner environmental organizations. “Today’s decision out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals represents a significant loss for frontline communities who for decades have endured pervasive, health-compromising pollution from the fossil fuel industry,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Devorah Ancel in a statement. 

Construction on the platform would likely begin soon. An estimate last year from Enterprise stated that SPOT would likely open in late 2026 or early 2027.

“SPOT and other deepwater crude export projects are dangerous and unnecessary, not to mention a massive pollution bomb that is totally inconsistent with our climate goals,” said Trevor Carroll, Brazoria County Lead Organizer for Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund in a statement after the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. “Our fight against this is far from over because sacrificing Gulf Coast communities and the global climate just to make it easier for giant corporations to ship our oil overseas is a terrible idea,” said Carroll.