Louisiana Offshore Oil Port
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) is another innovative solution to the problem of supertanker size. This revolutionary offshore facility allows supertankers to transfer their cargoes of crude oil directly into a pipeline network reaching more than 50 percent of U.S. refinery capacity - all without leaving the safety of deep Gulf waters.
Located 18 miles off the coast of Louisiana, where the water is approximately 115 feet deep, LOOP features three separate mooring stations anchored to the ocean floor and connected to an underwater pipeline system. The modular design means that up to three supertankers can unload their cargo of oil at the same time.
Mooring - Flexible hoses at the mooring station carry crude oil from the tanker into the underwater pipeline. The mooring buoy and hoses can rotate through 360 degrees, allowing the tanker to maintain a favorable heading into the wind and waves throughout the unloading process. All LOOP operations are monitored from the state-of-the-art central control platform.
Pumping - Two sets of four diesel-powered pumps - one on the offshore platform, the other where the underwater pipeline comes aground - keep the crude oil flowing at a rate of more than 100,000 barrels per hour. The pumps work like an electric fan: The diesel engines spin rotors that create suction like the blades of a fan. Crude oil is drawn from the line coming in from the mooring stations and forced through the outgoing line, headed toward the storage facility.
Storage - Oil gathered at the LOOP facility is stored in underground caverns carved out of a salt dome millions of years old. This geologic formation is ideal because the oil can neither dissolve nor move through the cavern walls. Each cavern is a closed system because what volume isn't filled with oil is filled with brine (i.e. salt water). Since crude oil is less dense than brine, it floats on top. Pumping oil from the offshore pipeline into the cavern forces brine up through pipes at the bottom and into surface reservoirs. When it's time to send the oil to the refinery, brine is pumped back into the bottom of the cavern, pushing the oil out through pipes at the top.»next