Lurking somewhere on the open seas, gargantuan ships capable of transporting nearly one-fifth of the U.S. daily crude production to more favorable markets await our supply. These very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, are longer than three football fields end-to-end and hold 2 million barrels (MMbbl) of oil. That’s four times the capacity of a typical Aframax oil tanker at 500,000 bbl, and twice that of the reigning big carriers, SuezMax, at 1 MMbbl.

But at present, because of their enormous size and deep draft when fully loaded, these ships can only dock at one port in the U.S., the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port or LOOP, situated 18 miles offshore. All other ports are too shallow.

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