Leave it to a bunch of Somali pirates to underscore how what happens on the west coast of Africa directly affects people in the United States.
The Greek-owned supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates over the weekend was headed for a deepwater port known as LOOP.
Most crude oil from the Middle East comes via massive tankers too large for New Orleans to offload oil. The hijacked Maran Centaurus is a 300,000-ton vessel, holding 2 million barrels of oil.
LOOP (Lousiana Offshore Oil Port) can handle ships more than twice as big.
About 1 million barrels of foreign crude — 10 percent of all U.S. imports — flow through LOOP every day.
Here’s how the oil flows from the Middle East to the Middle West:
- Tankers connect to a buoy 18 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
- An underwater pipeline moves oil a mile and a half to an offshore terminal.
- Four 7,000 horsepower pumps send oil ashore.
- At Fourchon, Louisiana, another massive pumping station sends the oil another 25 miles inland.
- The oil arrives at a network of underground salt caverns that can hold 50 million barrels of oil.
- From the caverns, the Locap pipeline channels oil 53 miles to St. James, Lousiana.
- At St. James, there’s a link to Capline which moves oil to Patoka, Illinois.
- The Chicap pipeline runs from Patoka to the Chicago suburbs.
- From there or at several points along the way, it’s refined and trucked to you!