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U.S. suspends review of Phillips 66 oil export terminal application

U.S. maritime officials have suspended a review of oil refiner Phillips 66’s application for a U.S. Gulf Coast deepwater export terminal for additional information, but the company said on Friday it would continue outreach efforts to win over residents.

Phillips 66 is one of five companies that have applied for U.S. permits to build offshore facilities to load shale onto supertankers for export to Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard issued so-called stop clock letters this month that temporarily halt reviews of its proposed Bluewater Texas Terminals, a 1.92 million barrel-per-day (bpd) project off Corpus Christi, Texas. They also suspended reviews of Sentinel Midstream LLC’s planned export terminal off Freeport, Texas, regulatory filings showed.

Phillips 66, which sought permits in May, planned to start construction on its project in the third quarter of next year and begin service in late 2021, according to regulatory filings.

Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss did not respond to a question on whether the suspension will delay the start-up.

U.S. officials called on Phillips 66 to engage with local officials and residents near the Corpus Christi project, citing “several dozen potentially affected property owners that were unaware of the proposed project.”

Phillips 66 has held “dozens” of meetings with local residents, elected officials and others and plans to continue such efforts, Nuss said.

“We’ve never heard from anyone,” said Deborah Galatzan, a property owner in Aransas Pass who expressed concern about the impact on businesses and the environment. She attended a July meeting where Phillips 66 officials discussed the project but called details provided “very sketchy and vague.”

Sentinel does not expect the suspension to affect its project and anticipates regulators will resume the review in the near future, Chief Executive Jeff Ballard said. Sentinel has said it expects to begin operations in early 2022.

Maritime officials previously suspended reviews of projects owned by pipeline operator Enbridge Inc and Swiss trader Trafigura AG in June and February, respectively.

Last month, they resumed a review of Enterprise Products Partners LP’s export project off Freeport, Texas, after a five-month pause.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Collin Eaton in Houston; Editing by Richard Chang)

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