Ship Strikes Dredge Pipeline at Sabine Pass

The Arctic Blizzard (file image courtesy Port of Hamburg / Peter Loffler)

Published Sep 7, 2018 10:32 AM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is searching for 1,000 feet of two-foot-diameter dredge pipeline after it was struck by a vessel and sent to the bottom near Sabine Pass, Texas. 

According to Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston, the vessel involved in the allision was the product tanker Arctic Blizzard. The incident occurred while she was outbound at 0024 hours on September 5.

A 37-foot draft restriction (reduced from a 32-foot restriction issued Wednesday) is in place at Sabine Pass due to the possibility of sunken pipeline in the shipping channel. Search operations continue, and eight tankers and gas carriers have been delayed by the draft restrictions.

According to the AAPA, the Sabine Pass waterway is the third-busiest in the United States by tonnage (as of 2017). As two of the vessels affected are LNG carriers, continued disruption could potentially impact shipment operations at Cheniere's Sabine Pass LNG terminal, the only functioning LNG export plant on the Gulf Coast. The facility has a nameplate capacity of 2.8 billion cubic feet per day, and the ship presently at its terminal, the Maran Gas Agamemnon, can hold roughly 3.6 billion cubic feet. Open source tracking sites suggest the Agamemnon has a maximum draft exceeding the 37-foot restriction, and the Coast Guard has confirmed that one outbound LNG carrier has been delayed. 

The Corps of Engineers is continuing a survey to locate the dredge pipeline, and hopes to complete the effort on Friday, according to a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman. An investigation into the cause of the casualty is under way. 

As of Friday, the Arctic Blizzard was under way in the Gulf of Mexico bound for Cristobal, Panama, the eastern entrance to the Panama Canal.