* TransMontaigne reports increased operating income
* Joint ventures help bottom line
NEW YORK, Aug 8 TransMontaigne Partners LP (TLP.N) expects to spend between $26 million and $29 million on projects currently under way in 2011, with the lion's share going to the joint-venture construction of 1 million barrels of oil storage at Cushing, Oklahoma.
"These are projects on the books," said Chuck Dunlap, chief executive of the Denver-based company, about the money it plans to spend this year.
He expects the Cushing project to be completed in about 12 months' time.
The joint venture, with Blueknight Energy Partners, was originally expected to be less than $25 million. Morgan Stanley Capital Partners has already leased the storage tanks.
TransMontaigne said another joint venture, effective April 1 with PMI Services North America, a unit of Mexican state-owned oil company Pemex, was a long-term play.
TransMontaigne contributed 1.5 million barrels of light petroleum storage in Brownsville, Texas, on the Mexican border to the joint venture, called Frontera Brownsville LLC.
"Mexico can't meet their refined products requirements. We are taking advantage of future growth," Dunlap said in a second-quarter conference call with analysts.
Mexico is a big supplier of crude oil to the United States, but it cannot meet total domestic demand for gasoline. The country imports about 40 percent of the gasoline it consumes, mostly from the United States.
TransMontaigne's second-quarter 2011 operating income increased to $17.1 million from $11.1 million last year.
Frontera Brownsville contributed a cash distribution of $700,000 on Aug. 1 for the three months ended June 30. (Reporting by Janet McGurty; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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