Oneok Partners To Build Yet Another Oil Pipeline

By Eric Fox | April 19, 2012 AAA

ONEOK Partners, L.P. (NYSE:OKS) plans to build yet another domestic crude oil pipeline as the company looks to ride the shale and unconventional resource development boom in the United States.

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Bakken Crude Express Pipeline
The company has budgeted from $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion to build the Bakken Crude Express Pipeline, a 1,300 mile pipeline designed with a capacity of 200,000 barrels of oil per day. The pipeline will bring crude oil from the Bakken play in the Williston Basin down to Cushing, Oklahoma, and is expected to be completed by 2015.

The pipeline will originate in Stanley, North Dakota, and run south through into Wyoming. The route will then turn eastward and cross through Colorado and Kansas, and finally reach its destination in Oklahoma.

SEE: Oil And Gas Industry Primer

Cushing Hub
Cushing's first involvement in the oil and gas business started in 1912, when a wildcat discovery was made at what became known as the Cushing-Drumright Field. This discovery kicked off an oil boom that lasted until 1915, when production at the field peaked at 310,000 barrels of oil per day.

Cushing is currently one of the largest crude oil transportation and storage hubs in the U.S., and has served as the delivery point for New York Mercantile Exchange futures contracts since 1983.

Growth Program
The most recent pipeline announcement is only one of many growth projects that ONEOK has planned over the next few years. The company has budgeted between $2.8 billion and $3.5 billion in capital spending on various disclosed projects from 2011 to 2014, as well as an additional $1 billion on smaller undisclosed projects.

These projects include pipelines and natural gas liquids processing and storage facilities and are located in the areas outside the Williston Basin including the Mid Continent, Gulf Coast, Woodford Shale and Granite Wash areas.

It planned to spend between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion on various Bakken projects prior to the most recent pipeline announcement.

SEE: What Determines Oil Prices?

Other Pipelines
ONEOK is not the only company pursuing growth off of the domestic oil and gas drilling boom. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P (NYSE:PAA) is building a crude oil pipeline in the Mid Continent area to handle future production from the development of the Mississippi Lime formation in Oklahoma and Kansas. The pipeline will run 170 miles from Alfalfa County, Oklahoma and terminate in Cushing.

Plains All American Pipeline plans to extend the pipeline into Kansas if demand warrants, and has signed a long-term agreement with SandRidge Energy (NYSE:SD), a major exploration and production operator in the area.

Another company that may use this pipeline is Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK), which is also active in the Mississippian play. The company is operating nearly two dozen rigs here and reported a 31% sequential production growth in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Imbalance
The planned pipeline may aggravate the current oversupply of crude oil at the Cushing hub, where incoming oil deliveries have exceeded the available capacity to ship crude to refiners on the Gulf Coast.

SEE: A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets

The Bottom Line
ONEOK is anticipating rapid crude oil and production growth from the increased development of the Bakken and other domestic unconventional resource plays. The company's investments here should generate earnings growth for many years.

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At the time of writing, Eric Fox did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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