(Adds comment from terminal and railroad logistics company)
By Ernest Scheyder and Sabina Zawadzki
BISMARCK, North Dakota/NEW YORK, June 24 (Reuters) -
E nterprise Products Partners LP proposed on Tuesday to
build the first direct pipeline moving shale oil from the Bakken
formation to the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub, hoping to
succeed where others have failed.
The 1,200-mile (1,900-km) pipeline will have a capacity of
340,000 barrels per day (bpd) adding supplies to the delivery
point for U.S. crude benchmark futures. Enterprise aims to have
the pipeline up and running by the end of 2016.
This is the first foray by Enterprise into North Dakota,
home to the majority of the Bakken oil fields where, despite a
boom in oil production, several pipeline projects have already
failed. Undeterred, Enterprise says the project marks a
geographical expansion in its operations.
"Our business right now is focused on Texas and Oklahoma,"
Brent Secrest, vice president of onshore crude oil, pipelines
and terminals, said when announcing the project at a pipeline
summit hosted by North Dakota's governor in the state capital.
"The goal is we go further north."
Shares of Enterprise hit an all-time high of $77.05 after
Secrest spoke. The shares closed flat at $76.11 on the New York
Production has grown in North Dakota at paces rarely seen in
oil formations around the world, which should bode well for
companies building transportation infrastructure that has been
lagging behind oil output.
However, out of five projects proposed in the past two years
by Enterprise, Enbridge, ONEOK Partners LP,
Koch Pipeline Co LP and Energy Transfer Partners, only
Enbridge's 225,000-375,000 bpd Sandpiper pipeline is going
ahead, and that runs eastward to Clearbrook, Minnesota.
At the moment the Bakken oil that is piped out, some 300,000
bpd, is taken east and eventually lands on Enbridge's pipeline
system running from Illinois southwards to Cushing.
From Cushing, many of the barrels continue south to Gulf
Coast refineries via the 400,000 bpd Seaway pipeline, operated
jointly by Enterprise and Enbridge.
John Auers, industry specialist and Senior Vice President at
Turner, Mason & Co, noted an influx of light sweet crude from
shale plays such as the Permian and Eagle Ford in Texas into the
Gulf Coast, where refineries are more suited to heavy oil.
"Moving Bakken into that surplus just doesn't make sense.
The place you need Bakken is the West Coast and the East Coast
to displace imports and that's why rail has taken off," he said,
referring to the boom in transporting crude by rail.
Sandy Fielden, director of energy analytics at RBN Energy,
noted the Seaway 'twin', a 450,000 bpd pipeline tracing the same
course as the original Seaway, is due to come onstream soon.
"Maybe Enterprise is trying to steal those Bakken barrels
before they go to Cushing (via Enbridge's system) so that they
can bring them directly into Cushing and then route them onto
Seaway," Fielden said.
"It may be an effort to make sure that there is enough crude
for the Seaway because what happens this year is the Seaway twin
comes online. That seems to be the only strategic game."
Some 60 to 70 percent of the 1 million bpd of North Dakota's
production is railed out of the state, a trend that hit national
headlines after several explosive train accidents.
Enterprise's proposed pipeline has the capacity to take half
of the crude normally railed, but analysts say because no
pipelines exist to transport crude to the East and West Coasts
from the Bakken, rail transport will remain a viable option.
Mark Luitwieler, co-owner of Houston-based commodity
terminal and railroad logistics company Peaker Energy, said
Enterprise would have some tough competition for shippers, who
have come to like the flexibility of crude by rail.
A railcar lease lasts three to five years, while pipelines
typically require shippers to sign 10- to 20-year contracts.
"That's a hell of a commitment to make to something that
you're doing right now for this and you're only having to commit
three to five years," he said.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said the state wants
pipeline capacity to almost double to 1.4 million barrels of oil
equivalent per day (boepd) by 2016, to curb the flaring of
natural gas at wells beyond the pipeline system.
FACTBOX: U.S. crude oil pipelines
FACTBOX-Infrastructure at the Cushing hub
(Additional reporting Catherine Ngai in New York and Kristen
Hays in Houston; writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by
Marguerita Choy, Bernard Orr)