Enterprise Products Partners and Energy Transfer Partners have agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture to design and construct a crude oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to Houston. The project would allow greater access to US Gulf-area refining complexes and add approximately 500,000 barrels of storage capacity at new facilities to be constructed and owned by the joint venture at Enterprises new Houston crude oil terminal.
Financial details were not disclosed.
The pipeline would provide an outlet for more than 400,000 bpd of crude oil supplies which are currently stranded at the Cushing hub and priced at a substantial discount to imported crude oil on the Gulf coast. The pipeline would also give refiners on the Gulf coast improved access to growing supplies of domestic crude oil production and an alternative to higher priced crude oil imports, which represent their largest source of supply.
Utilizing new and existing pipelines, the 584-mile project would originate at Enterprises 3.1 mn barrel crude oil storage facility in Cushing. Enterprise and Energy Transfer would each contribute existing assets to the joint venture, including Energy Transfers 240-mile, 24-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in East Texas, which would comprise approximately 40% of the proposed system.
By utilizing infrastructure already in place and following existing pipeline right-of-ways for the 354 miles of new construction, the joint venture partners expect the pipeline to be in service much sooner than laying new pipe only.
The terminus of the pipeline would be at Enterprises ECHO crude oil storage and terminal facility in southeast Harris County, Texas. The ECHO crude oil terminal would offer access to major Texas Gulf coast refining centers in Texas City, Pasadena/Deer Park, Baytown and on the Houston Ship Channel, the companies said.
Subject to sufficient commitments from shippers and the required regulatory approvals, the new pipeline is expected to begin service in the fourth quarter of 2012. The joint venture partners would share commercial responsibilities, with an integrated project team responsible for construction of the pipeline and Enterprise serving as operator.
We are very pleased to partner with Energy Transfer on this project which has received a very positive response during initial meetings with potential shippers, said Michael A. Creel, president and chief executive officer of Enterprises general partner. Within the next 60 days, we expect to have firm, long-term commitments in place for the available capacity.
We are pleased to work with Enterprise on this crude oil pipeline project, said Kelcy L. Warren, chairman and chief executive officer of Energy Transfer. We believe our joint venture will be cost-competitive and offer the most expedient solution to benefit domestic crude oil producers and Gulf coast consumers who are dependent on higher-priced foreign crude oil as a result of the lack of pipeline infrastructure between Cushing and the Gulf coast. We are also excited by this opportunity, which marks our entry into the fee-based crude oil pipeline and terminalling business, further diversifying Energy Transfers business mix.
US Midcontinent crude oil supplies have been growing rapidly and are expected to continue to grow with the development of shale plays such as Bone Springs/Avalon, Bakken and Barnett, as well as increasing Canadian crude oil production, the companies said.
These supplies are accumulating in Cushing, which lacks southbound pipeline capacity to the largest US crude oil market on the Gulf coast with more than 2 mn bpd of refining capacity. The glut of crude oil supplies in Cushing has resulted in Cushing barrels trading at a substantial discount to the price of crude oil on the Gulf coast, most of which is crude oil imported by ship from foreign crude oil producers.
Over the past three months, Cushing crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) has been trading at an average discount of approximately $12.57 per barrel and $10.54 per barrel to Louisiana Light Sweet and Brent crude oil, respectively.