We don’t expect to see a flurry of U.S. crude shipments overseas following the expected lifting of the decades old U.S. ban on exports by Congress this week. That’s because the price spread between U.S. crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and international equivalent Brent is currently trading at less than $2/Bbl – providing no economic incentive to cover the freight cost of shipping U.S. crude abroad. However, longer term the end of the export ban expands the market options for U.S. crude producers. In that context, well-developed pipeline connections between South Texas Eagle Ford oil and condensate production and the Port of Corpus Christi bode well for future export opportunities.
Since the start of 2013 Corpus Christi marine terminal facilities have increased crude and condensate storage by 10 MMBbl and throughput capacity from 225 Mb/d to nearly 1 MMb/d. Upwards of 700 Mb/d is leaving the Port of Corpus Christi by barge and tanker – most of it headed along the Gulf Coast to Houston or Louisiana. Waterborne traffic congestion in Corpus is already limiting terminal throughput but the potential for increased exports of condensate and refined products from planned condensate splitters suggest the traffic will get worse soon. Today we survey current Corpus terminal facilities.
In the latter half of 2013 two very similar pipeline projects dueled it out with shippers in North Dakota to secure commitments to move crude out of the Bakken into the Midwest and points south. After addressing some concerns raised by federal regulators about tariff structure, the Enbridge and Marathon Petroleum Company Sandpiper proposal appears to be on track for approval. The rival Koch Dakota Express project was abruptly cancelled in January of this year. In pure capacity terms both these pipelines were “nice to have” not “need to have”. Today we complete our analysis of the fate of these competing projects.
Since the start of 2014 two competing pipeline projects designed to provide crude producers in North Dakota with additional takeaway capacity have met with very different fates. The first proposal – the Sandpiper project launched by Enbridge in late 2012 has completed a successful Open Season and petitioned federal regulators for approval of its tariff structure. Sponsor Koch Industries quietly canceled the second competing proposal – the Dakota Express pipeline first proposed in July 2013. Looking at rail and pipeline takeaway capacity versus crude production in North Dakota, both these pipelines are “nice to have” not “need to have”. Today we begin a two part analysis of these competing projects.
At the end of June Koch announced plans for an open season that started July 1, 2013 to solicit interest in a pipeline project to deliver 250 Mb/d of crude from the Bakken to Hartford and Patoka, IL. Koch’s plans suggest the new pipe could connect to St James, LA on the Gulf Coast via the proposed Energy Transfer/Enbridge Energy joint venture Gulf Coast Crude Access pipeline. If the pipeline proceeds, it would come into service in 2016. Earlier Bakken pipeline projects have failed because of flexible rail options. But rail rates from the Bakken to the coasts are currently underwater due to narrowing crude spreads. Today we review the project’s prospects.
Total crude oil shipped out from the South Texas Port of Corpus Christi increased 19 fold between November 2011 and November 2012 from 2.1 MMBbl to 36 MMBbl. All of that crude is coming from the Eagle Ford shale oil basin 70 miles north of Corpus in the form of light crude or condensate via pipeline. Six marine terminals have been built or expanded at Corpus but can they handle the traffic jam? Today we review how the Port is coping.
Eagle Ford crude production is close to 600 Mb/d as of July 2012. Most forecasts show that number increasing to about 1,200 Mb/d over the next five years. Takeaway projects being developed today to go online by 2013 have capacity for 1,650 Mb/d. The midstream companies building these projects are either wildly optimistic or they know something about Eagle Ford production that we don’t. Today we look at plans for condensate takeaway from the Eagle Ford.