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Port of Tampa unveils new $56 million fuel terminal

TAMPA — The Port of Tampa on Wednesday unveiled the first phase of a $56 million berth and terminal modernization project where vehicular and aviation fuel serving the Tampa-Ocala-Orlando-Naples region can be unloaded with vastly improved efficiency.

The first shipments are scheduled to be handled at Berth 223 on Nov. 11 and at the new Berth 222 on Nov. 18, both along the southwest side of Hooker’s Point, across the “Cut D” channel from Davis Islands.

“This is a one-of-a-kind facility,” said Paul Anderson, the port’s director and chief executive officer. “It (represents) sustainability of an asset for generations.”

The modernized complex has three berths, the new Berth 222 along with Berths 223 and 227, that have been preserved. Those get new equipment and more space for bigger ships with the demolition of a “finger berth” between them that restricted access to unloading three wide vessels at a time.

Even more important is a network of seven miles of new 12-inch pipeline and construction of a “central manifold” that enables a ship to unload fuel products intended for four nearby facilities, where private companies distribute fuel by truck or pipeline.

The four companies that distribute petroleum products share use of the central manifold, which replaces the current system that requires a ship to move from one adjacent berth to another to download its supplies to the proper destination.

“This facility will save us a lot of money,” said Karl Bernard, the Roswell, Ga.- based director of operations for TransMontaigne Product Services Inc., one of the four major petroleum distributors that will use the new facility, along with Kinder Morgan, Murphy Oil and Buckeye Terminals.

Barnard said the project that’s been in the works for more than two years represents change for users, but all of it is positive.

Liquid petroleum — including regular, premium and diesel fuel — and aviation fuel shipped by pipeline to Taft, near Orlando International Airport - account for about half the cargo tonnage at the Port of Tampa.

Port authority berths at the Port of Tampa accounted for 7.2 million tons of petroleum products in fiscal 2012, with another 8.4 million tons at non-authority terminals. Tampa International Airport gets aviation fuel shipped into Tampa’s but not through terminals the Tampa Port Authority owns.

Amalee Oil Co. which handles lubricants, and CF Industries, which handles anhydrous ammonia and has announced plans to sell its Port of Tampa facilities to the Mosaic. Co., also will get shipments at the new Hooker’s point complex, but those will not use the new petroleum distribution network.

“This project basically supplies gasoline fuel and (aviation) fuel for state of Florida residents,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad. The state provided $28 million for the project with port and private sector partnerships contributing the remainder.

“You would not be able to use our beautiful infrastructure if this pipeline were shut,” Prasad said.

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