Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) LLC announced it completed its first-ever loading of a very large crude carrier (VLCC) with U.S.-produced oil for export at its Deepwater Port, 18 miles from Port Fourchon, La.

The Monday announcement by LOOP marked a historic step since Congress lifted a 40-year ban on most U.S. crude exports in late 2015. LOOP’s Deepwater Facility has offloaded more than 10,200 oil shipments since opening in 1981 but this was the first export for a terminal directly loading a VLCC.

“We are pleased to offer the enhanced capability to safely and efficiently load the largest cargo vessels in the world with crude oil for export,” said Tom Shaw, LOOP president, in the company’s announcement. “There could not be a better time to offer this service as domestic production surpasses 10 million barrels per day in the ever dynamic global crude oil market.”

LOOP operates the only deepwater U.S. oil terminal capable of fully loading a VLCC. The company said the start of export operations “helps optimize America’s energy supply chain by enabling inbound vessels delivering foreign crude oil to leave LOOP with U.S. crude oil, rather than returning empty.”

“The new onloading configuration was accomplished with only minor modifications to existing facilities and is scalable to meet the changing needs of the industry,” Shaw added.

LOOP said Shell Trading Company US, a Houston-based subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, was the shipper of record. Bloomberg reported the vessel, the 1,089’x193.5’ Shaden operated by Bahri, the national shipping company of Saudi Arabia, would deliver its cargo to China oil trader Unipec.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.