Last week Eagle Ford producer BHP Billiton – apparently tired of waiting for a ruling from the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) – decided to export a cargo of processed condensate that they have “self-classified” as refined product – meaning it is not subject to U.S. export restrictions on lease condensate and crude oil. That move followed BIS approval for Enterprise and Pioneer to make similar exports in July 2014 and could set off a posse of similar condensate exports by Eagle Ford producers. Today we review new market options for condensate producers.
This is the 8th episode in our series updating analysis of Eagle Ford infrastructure. In Part 1 (see Condensate City – Finding a Home For Eagle Ford Crude) we described a five-fold increase in Eagle Ford crude oil production over the past three years to 1.5 MMb/d. We explained the varying quality and in particular the high percentage of condensate in liquids output (about 45 percent) has caused headaches for producers and refiners alike. Two main pipeline routes to market have developed from the Eagle Ford – south to the Port of Corpus Christi and East to Houston area refineries. In Part 2 we described the crude takeaway systems developed by Magellan Midstream Partners and Kinder Morgan. In Part 3 we reviewed Plains All American Pipeline (Plains) and Enterprise Product Partners (Enterprise). In Part 4 we looked at Harvest Pipeline, Martin Midstream, Energy Transfer Partners and Trafigura. In Part 5 we covered infrastructure developed by Koch and NuStar. In Part 6 we looked at Devon and Genesis as well as Eagle Ford refineries. Part 7 reviewed marine dock facilities at Corpus Christi. This time we look at condensate stabilization and splitter capacity in the Eagle Ford.
N E W R E P O R T ! ! Battle for Henry Hub
Examines the impact of huge surpluses of natural gas bearing down on the Henry Hub in South Louisiana from Marcellus/Utica in the east and supplies from the west sourced from high-BTU and associated gas from plays in TX, NM, OK and ND
More information about Battle for Henry Hub here.
The volume of condensate coming out of oil and gas wells in the Eagle Ford is the subject of some contention. For one thing the definition of condensate is in the eye of the beholder rather than written in tablets of stone. RBN classifies this ultra light crude hydrocarbon as having an API over 50 degrees – others place the bar at 55 API and higher. What everyone can agree on is that such light hydrocarbons are not attractive to most Gulf Coast refineries that are configured to handle heavier crude and have problems processing condensate with too many light end components. The result is that refiners pay less for condensate and producers often blend it with heavier crude to get a better price (see Don’t Let your Crude Oils Grow Up to be Condensate). RBN estimates Eagle Ford condensate production at 45 percent of total crude output. With October 2014 crude output at 1.5 MMb/d that puts current condensate production at around 690 Mb/d, with some of that volume still blended off into crude oil.