The major re-plumbing of the U.S. crude pipeline distribution network to get 4 MMb/d of new domestic production as well as incremental Canadian barrels delivered to refineries is getting close to completion. The price crash and an expected slow down in production will almost certainly slow the pace of infrastructure development. The result is likely to be intensified competition between rival midstream companies and industry consolidation. Today we look at the larger implications of a small pipeline project in Houston.
Last Wednesday (October 1, 2014) pipeline and NGL giant Enterprise Products Partners LP (Enterprise) announced step one of a two step multi-billion dollar deal to merge their assets with competing major liquids storage and terminal partnership Oiltanking Partners (Oiltanking). If the deal goes according to plan (timing to be determined) Enterprise will absorb all of Oiltanking. Both companies have significant midstream assets in the Houston and surrounding Gulf Coast region that is currently front row center of efforts to process and handle an incoming flood of new crude and natural gas liquids arriving from U.S. shale plays. Today we review the deal.
Throughout the three year-long disruption of the US crude oil distribution system caused by rising domestic and Canadian production trying to find a path through the Midwest, the Seaway pipeline reversal project has been a market bellwether of progress to unwind the congestion. In 2Q 2014 the final phase will come online - opening up an additional 450 Mb/d capacity between Cushing and Houston. As the Seaway project has been built out, the crude surplus in the Midwest appears to have moved to the Gulf Coast. Today we detail the impact of Seaway Phase 3 on Gulf Coast crude supplies.
We estimate that over 4 MMb/d of new crude transportation capacity will have opened up to the Texas Gulf Coast by the end of 2015 – to a region with just under 3.7 MMb/d of nameplate refining capacity. With crude exports restricted by Federal law, some of that crude is going to need to find a home – most likely at Eastern Gulf refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi. Today we look at how some of the incoming flood of crude could be redistributed across the Gulf Coast region.
The latest available Energy Information Administration (EIA) data for April 2013 indicates that imports into Houston and Port Arthur region refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast included 425 Mb/d of light and 425 Mb/d of medium quality crudes. Seventy three percent of the imports that month were heavy crude. Domestic and/or Canadian supplies fed only 43 percent of the region’s 3.18 MMb/d crude demand. That balance of refinery crude supplies will change significantly by 2014 as increased domestic production finds a path to the Houston and Port Arthur regions via new and expanded pipeline capacity. Today we extend our Permian series by digging into the import data and building a Houston/Port Arthur refinery supply demand balance.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) discount to Brent has narrowed 30 percent in 2013 to close at $13.95/Bbl on Friday March 22, 2013. At the same time Gulf Coast Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) prices have moved unexpectedly to a $6.75/Bbl premium over Brent. Is the WTI discount to Brent finally unwinding? If so – then why are LLS prices trading above Brent? Today we update our analysis of the WTI/Brent spread.
By the end of this week (Friday January 11, 2013) Phase 2 of the Seaway Reversal pipeline project that delivers crude from Cushing to Houston is supposed to have come online - expanding pipeline capacity from 150 Mb/d to 400 Mb/d. Phase 1 of the project was eagerly anticipated by the market but since then (June 2012) the narrowing in price differentials between WTI Cushing and Brent expected by much of the market has not materialized. Today we explain why Seaway Phase 2 is only one factor in today’s complex US crude market evolution.
A veritable flood of more than 3 MMb/d of new crude production from the US and Canada will come into the Houston region by 2015 via long awaited new pipeline infrastructure. The most immediate impact will be to back out light sweet crudes from the Gulf Coast region – as early as 2013. Today we assess how the changes will affect light sweet crude pricing.
Permian crude production is experiencing a renaissance. This month (September 2012) Bentek estimated current production at 1.3 MMb/d. Most of that production not absorbed by local refineries is shipped to Cushing or further into the Midwest where prices are depressed versus the Gulf Coast. New takeaway capacity projects look to change that balance towards the Gulf Coast over the next two years. Today we explore how West Texas crude prices will be impacted by access to the Gulf Coast.
Bakken crude oil has traded at an $8-$10/Bbl discount to WTI for the past few weeks, and a few times since January this year has blown out to more than $20/Bbl. We talked about some of the reasons for this volatility in the first two installments of “The Bakken Buck Starts Here”, covering the mysteries of crude postings and pipeline hub pricing. Ultimately however refiners are more concerned with delivered crude oil prices. Today’s installment of The Bakken Buck Starts Here – Bakken Crude Pricing Part III compares delivered crude costs to four US refining centers.
Last week EIA published a note titled Cushing Crude Oil Inventories Rising In 2012, which focuses on the 12 MMbl increase in storage levels from mid-January until end-March. It was a 43% surge, the largest over an 11 week period since 2009.
Yesterday the folks at Raymond James issued a great research piece titled “Hell Brent and Gulf Coast Bound, WTI Discount's Here to Stay”. Got to love those RJ titles. We won’t get into their numbers or the details of their analysis, but three of their points I’ll summarize here.