Posts from Sheela Tobben

A handful of U.S. midstreamers are striving to build an offshore export buoy in the Gulf of Mexico that would be able to fully load a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC). If successful, they could facilitate a new wave of crude oil export flows and dynamics. With domestic production back to record highs and global supply and demand dynamics in a constant state of flux, the market developments along the Gulf Coast are something the oil industry is eying intently. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the latest on two export projects — Phillips 66 and Trafigura's Bluewater Texas Terminal and Sentinel Midstream’s Texas GulfLink.

Fresh on the heels of expanding its Beaumont, TX, refinery into the largest in the country, ExxonMobil announced in January that it had finished yet another project at its century-old Baton Rouge complex in Louisiana. The Baton Rouge Refinery Integrated Competitiveness (BRRIC) project took roughly three years to complete and did not add crude refining capacity, unlike the Beaumont project. Instead, the goal of the $240 million investment was to modernize the crude oil processing plant — the state’s largest — increasing access to competitive crudes and growing markets for its fuels as well as curbing the refinery’s environmental impact. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the BRRIC project and what it means for the Baton Rouge refinery. 

As we step into the new year with record-high U.S. crude oil production and export volumes as strong as ever, there’s a race underway among four offshore export projects that aim to tap into those rising supplies and — with their ability to fully load Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) without any reverse lightering — push export volumes to new heights. While Enterprise Products Partners’ Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) might be leading the development race so far, Energy Transfer’s (ET) Blue Marlin Offshore Port has momentum also. In today’s RBN blog, we update Blue Marlin’s progress, look at the critical role anchor shippers play in project development, and show how growing offshore exports could impact existing onshore terminals. 

The impending startup of Canada’s government-owned Trans Mountain Expansion Project, better known as TMX, will add exit capacity for Western Canadian crude oil production and is expected to redirect at least some of Alberta’s output toward California and Asia and away from its traditional North American markets, including complex refiners in Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast. Among them, Gulf Coast refiners, who have become the “price-setting” consumers of heavy Western Canadian crude, are expected to be the hardest hit. In today’s RBN blog, we examine the Gulf of Mexico production and imported grades that might become stand-ins for the “lost” Canadian barrels. 

U.S. natural gas production continues to increase, with more growth expected at least through the middle of this decade to feed new LNG export capacity coming online along the Gulf Coast. Production growth will require new infrastructure, but long-distance transmission lines have become increasingly difficult to build due to entrenched environmental opposition. Meanwhile, gathering pipes have grown in size and length, blurring the lines between gathering and transmission. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll discuss what separates gathering systems from transmission pipelines, why those differences matter, and how those systems are continuing to evolve. 

After a roughly three-year wait for a critical state permit, Enbridge’s Great Lakes Tunnel and Pipe Replacement project for its Line 5 pipeline across the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan has taken a step forward. The Army Corps of Engineers’ permits for the tunnel project would seem to be the only major obstacle standing in the way of construction, but there may well be more challenges ahead. Like a few other oil and gas projects — namely, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) — Line 5 has become entangled in controversy, including local opposition worried that a spill would irreparably damage their surroundings and spoil the state’s natural resources. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the Line 5 project, its next steps, and the opposition it continues to encounter. 

We’ve reached the two-year anniversary of the reversal of the joint-venture Capline crude oil pipeline. With its current north-to-south flow, it adds to the few conduits that can move oil from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, specifically the St. James, LA, oil hub. Flows have been on a steady climb since southbound service began in December 2021, but volumes appear to be short of its available capacity, and there are looming headwinds. In today’s RBN blog, we examine whether Capline’s flows could be affected by the impending startup of the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). Could rising Alberta production be its golden ticket?