Production of lease condensate at the wellhead and plant condensate from processing natural gas liquids (NGLs) has increased rapidly in the Ohio Utica over the past two years. Timely investment by local refiner Marathon and infrastructure developments to ship condensate to Gulf Coast refiners have proved the primary market for Utica condensate so far. The proximity of the region to diluent pipelines to Canada has also prompted infrastructure projects. Today we describe projects to deliver condensate to Alberta.
The latest estimates from North Dakota show production edging up in March 2015 after a two-month decline. But the heady days are over for the moment - in the wake of lower crude prices - as even optimistic forecasts project flattened growth. Meanwhile combined rail and pipeline crude takeaway capacity out of North Dakota are already far higher than production – but new projects like the TransCanada Upland pipeline continue to be pitched to shippers. Today we describe how that could result in producers switching from existing routes.
Crude oil production is expected to be slowing down in U.S. shale basins in the wake of lower oil prices and drastic cuts in the number of working rigs. Most forecasts for future growth are far more conservative now. Yet new midstream pipeline projects continue to emerge. The latest proposal in the Bakken would add a minimum of 220 Mb/d of takeaway capacity sometime after 2018. At that point, between rail and pipeline, North Dakota takeaway capacity will be more than double RBN’s Growth Scenario production forecast – suggesting new pipelines will need to attract defectors from existing routes to market. Today we examine the rationale behind the proposed TransCanada Upland pipeline.
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 week (February 19, 2015) Enterprise Product Partners announced the start of line fill on their 780 Mb/d ECHO to Beaumont/Port Arthur pipeline. The new route will open access for Canadian heavy crude shippers on the recently completed Seaway Twin pipeline from Cushing to Houston to 1.5 MMb/d of refining capacity in Beaumont/Port Arthur including 0.3 MMb/d of heavy crude coker processing. These refineries were a key target of the Keystone-XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast that still awaits approval. Today we look at demand and competition for Canadian heavy crude on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Since December the first significant volume of Canadian heavy crude - an average of 240 Mb/d - has flowed to the Gulf Coast on the Seaway Twin pipeline. It’s been a rocky road to the Gulf Coast for Canadian heavy crude producers – beset with delays and congestion that they probably never envisioned when they planned their oil sands projects (including the wider political battle over Keystone – currently back in the President’s hands.) And Canadian crude that does make it to Gulf Coast refineries faces stiff competition from incumbent suppliers. Today we chart the progress of the Seaway Twin and Flanagan South pipelines and look at price competition for heavy crude at the Gulf.
Most of the heavy crude oil arriving at the busy Hardisty hub in Alberta that throughputs up to 3.5 MMb/d – is already blended with diluent supplied closer to the production fields to the north. The diluent supply infrastructure to the oil sands today and planned for future expansion is primarily directed from Edmonton. But Hardisty fills an important role in final blending before the crude oil cocktail is transported to market. Today we round up our survey of Hardisty diluent requirements.
Between them the TransCanada Grand Rapids, Enbridge Norlite and Devon/MEG Access pipelines currently being planned and built out will be able to deliver an extra 1 MMb/d of diluent to oil sands producers by 2017. That’s more than producers currently expect to need until 2030. The diluent will be shipped north from Edmonton terminals to production plants and blended with bitumen before making the return trip as dilbit or railbit destined for long-haul transport by pipe or rail to U.S. and Canadian markets. Today we describe the pipeline build out plans.
The Edmonton region in Alberta is home to a growing crude gathering hub that brings in bitumen crude from the oil sands region 250 miles to the north. In order to get that crude to Edmonton and to markets in the U.S., producers must first blend it with diluent range materials so that it can flow in pipelines. In the early days much of the diluent required in the oil sands was delivered by rail and truck but now a growing “parallel” pipeline network is developing to source and distribute supplies as new production comes online. Today we look at the Edmonton diluent distribution system.
Canadian production of diluent range light hydrocarbon materials such as natural gasoline and condensate are not currently meeting demand from the oil sands region. Diluent is used to reduce the viscosity of heavy Canadian crude so that it can flow to market in pipelines. Diluent supplies required to supplement Canada’s domestic output are nearly all imported from the U.S. via two pipelines that originate in the Midwest. Those pipelines are mostly supplied with diluent sourced from the Gulf Coast. Today we look at how imported diluent gets to Western Canada.
New pipeline projects to take crude out of the Rockies are starting to make the map look like a spider’s web. The latest proposal comes from Spectra Energy – owners of the Express and Platte pipelines that ship crude from Hardisty to Wood River via Guernsey, WY. Spectra hope to build a pipeline carrying light sweet crude from Guernsey to the Midwest pipeline hub at Patoka. The project would bypass Cushing and push more light crude to the east with potential access to Midwest refineries or even the East Coast. Patoka is also poised to become an origination point for shipments to the Gulf Coast. Today we review the Spectra project’s chances in a crowded pipeline field.
Enbridge expect their Line 9 reversal to be complete in October 2014. By the end of 2014 this pipeline will deliver 300 Mb/d of mainly light crude to two refineries in Quebec. But the Line 9 reversal will likely not have capacity to ship any crude for export – either from Canada’s East Coast or via the Portland-Montreal pipeline to Maine. Significant crude deliveries east of Quebec will have to wait for TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline in 2018. Today we explain why in the final episode of our series on feeding crude to eastern Canadian refineries.
Enbridge is investing close to $9 billion between 2013 and 2016 in its Eastern and Light Oil Market Access initiatives. A major goal is to improve access for Enbridge shippers – particularly shippers of light shale crude from North Dakota, to refineries in the Midwest and eastern Canada. And by the end of 2014 refineries in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio as well as in Ontario will have better access to Enbridge crude. But even when the reversal of Line 9 in Ontario is completed and Enbridge crude can flow as far as Montreal, only about 300 Mb/d will be available for Quebec refineries to process. Today we continue our review of Enbridge eastern expansion plans.
The Enbridge crude oil network is North America’s largest. Its original objective was to deliver western Canadian crude to refineries in the US Midwest. Many of those refineries like the 413 Mb/d BP Whiting complex south of Chicago have spent billions upgrading to process heavy Canadian crude. But the shale boom is adding significant volumes of light crude to the Enbridge system, particularly in North Dakota. So now the company is expanding capacity to get that light crude to market in eastern Canada and the US Midwest. Today we continue our coverage of Enbridge’s expansion plans.
Enbridge own and operate the longest liquids pipeline system in North America extending from Fort McMurray in Alberta to Montreal in Eastern Canada and south through the US Midwest to Freeport on the Texas Gulf Coast. Although the major purpose of the pipeline is to deliver heavy western Canadian crude, it also carries light crude to eastern Canada and the US Midwest. Projects underway that are expected to be completed at the end of 2014 will expand flows of light crude to the east by 400 Mb/d. Today we continue our series reviewing the Enbridge initiatives with the Light Oil Market Access (LOMA) projects.