Potential for Deepwater Port Development in the United States

EMD-78-9: Published: Apr 5, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1978.

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The development of deepwater ports in the United States has received much attention in recent years, primarily because of the increasing size of oil tankers and the country's increasing reliance on oil imports. Large tankers offer the most economical method for moving large volumes of crude oil over long distances. Because the United States does not have deepwater port facilities capable of handling the commonly used large tankers, oil must be transferred from large to smaller vessels before delivery.

The expected need for an increase in the number of smaller tankers will create congestion and hazards of collision and oilspill. According to the Department of Commerce, offshore deepwater ports using pipelines to transport the oil would provide a safer alternative. Some deepwater ports are being planned off Louisiana and Texas, but no proposals for such ports are being considered for the mid-Atlantic areas. State and local governments have opposed the ports because of concerns about oilspills and secondary industrial growth and have questioned their economic feasibility because of poor prospects for much increase in refinery capacity. Judgments about the feasibility of a deepwater port on the Atlantic coast should be deferred until a definitive study is completed.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The Secretary of Transportation, with the cooperation of other involved Secretaries, governments, and groups, should complete a mid-Atlantic deepwater port study by December 31, 1978, addressed to optimum location and number of ports, construction costs, potential for refined product use, procedures and legal arrangements, requirements for pollution control technology, and financing and management options. Within 6 months of completion of the study, the Secretary should submit a plan to Congress identifying a program to construct and operate the port. If the study finds the port undesirable, he should report this finding and present options. Congress should schedule appropriate hearings on the study's results. Congress should also enact legislation to expedite required Federal approvals of transportation systems to move surplus Alaskan crude oil to inland States.


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