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October 1, 1993

HQ 112879

VES-3-CO:R:IT:C 112879 LLB


Mr. Robert A. McElroy, Jr.
Unocal Corporation
P.O. Box 237
Nederland, Texas 77627

RE: Coastwise trade; Lading and unlading; Test program; Petroleum; Stationary vessel; 46 U.S.C. App. 883

Dear Mr. McElroy:

Reference is made to your letter of September 10, 1993, which forwards for our consideration and determination the question of whether your company may engage the services of a foreign-flag tanker vessel in testing certain marine loading facilities at your terminal in Texas.


It is proposed that Unocal test new petroleum-loading facilities at the company's Beaumont Terminal located in Nederland, Texas. The test would consist of loading 100,000 barrels of crude oil from the shore facility onto a foreign-flag vessel. The crude oil would then be unladed from the vessel to the same shore facility, with the vessel having remained stationary during the entire process. The test is being conducted in order to assess the readiness of the facility to aid any necessary future drawdown of the national strategic petroleum reserves in the event of a declared national emergency.


Whether the lading and unlading of crude oil involving a shore point in the United States and a non-coastwise-qualified stationary vessel may be accomplished without violating the prohibitions imposed by section 883 of title 46, United States Code Appendix (commonly referred to as the Jones Act).


Title 46, United States Code App., section 883 (46 U.S.C. App. 883), in pertinent part, prohibits the transportation of merchandise between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws, either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel built in and documented under the laws of the United States and owned by persons who are citizens of the United States.

The Customs-Service consistently has held that the use of a non-coastwise-qualified vessel as a moored facility does not violate the coastwise laws, or any other law administered by the Customs Service, provided that the vessel remains stationary. Customs also has held that if the vessel is being loaded or unloaded and must be moved to another location because of stress of weather or other reason involving the vessel's safety, subsequently is returned to the same point to continue its loading or unloading, and neither loads nor unloads merchandise at any other point in the United States, the coastwise laws are not violated.

In light of the foregoing, we have determined that the proposed test as previously outlined may proceed as planned without consequence under the coastwise laws administered by the Customs Service.


The coastwise laws are not violated when cargo is laded aboard a non-coastwise-qualified vessel in the United States and is unladed from that vessel at the same point, the vessel having remained stationary during the entire operation.


Arthur P. Schifflin

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