(Corrects headline to 'west Texas crude' from 'WTI crude')
HOUSTON Feb 21 Sunoco Logistics Partners LP expects the first phase of its West Texas-Nederland crude oil pipeline project to be operational by the second quarter of 2013, Chief Executive Michael Hennigan told analysts on Thursday.
The first phase of the Permian Express project will involve a reversed pipeline that will carry up to 90,000 barrels per day of West Texas crude from Wichita Falls southeast to the Beaumont-Nederland area. Sunoco had initially planned to start up that phase in the first quarter this year.
Plans to ramp up capacity to 150,000 bpd by late 2013 or early 2014 remain on track, he said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call.
Many pipeline projects are under way to move crude oil from the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas to the U.S. Gulf Coast refining hub. Sunoco has a large storage terminal at Nederland.
Hennigan said Sunoco is developing a second phase of the Permian Express project intended to carry an additional 200,000 bpd.
Asked if Sunoco might be interested in Hess Corp assets up for sale, he said the company is "very, very" active in mergers and acquisitions if assets fit the company's growth plans and make economic sense.
Last month Hess announced plans to sell its oil storage terminal network and exit the oil refining business.
Hennigan said the acquisition market "has been very frothy" lately with pricey assets that haven't piqued the company's interest. But Sunoco would look at what is available, he said. (Reporting By Kristen Hays; Editing by Gabriel Debenedetti)