NuStar attracts shippers for Eagle Ford pipeline expansion

NuStar Energy LP said Friday that it has received commitments from shippers who will use an expansion of the company’s pipeline system in the Eagle Ford Shale.

NuStar will add capacity of about 35,000 barrels of crude oil a day to its South Texas Crude Oil Pipeline System, with the expansion to be operating by the third quarter of 2014, the company said in a statement.

The pipeline system now transports crude oil from the Eagle Ford Shale from several terminals in Frio, McMullen and La Salle counties to NuStar’s North Beach facility in Corpus Christi.
The expansion would increase the capacity of NuStar’s pipeline system between its Gardendale terminal in La Salle County and the Corpus Christi terminal.

San Antonio’s NuStar announced earlier this year that it was seeking binding commitments from shippers for the expansion.

Shippers’ commitments were made with NuStar affiliate NuStar Crude Oil Pipeline LP.
NuStar also has said it may build a second-phase expansion, and that it “continues to receive interest” in that project. The company will decide whether to go ahead with that project “in the near future.”

A company spokeswoman said NuStar doesn’t have final cost estimates for the pipeline expansions yet.

If built, the second phase would add capacity of about 65,000 barrels a day and could be available as early as the first quarter of 2015, NuStar said. A decision on Phase 2 is expected by year’s end.

NuStar has ramped up investments in the Eagle Ford Shale since late last year, when the company announced it was shifting to focus on its stable, fee-based businesses, including its pipelines, and away from its margin-based businesses.

NuStar sold a 50 percent stake in its two asphalt refineries on the East Coast in September 2012, and on Jan. 1 it sold its small refinery in San Antonio.

NuStar’s has completed five projects in the Eagle Ford Shale. Late last year, it paid $425 million for Eagle Ford assets from TexStar Midstream Services LP, which NuStar has renamed the South Texas Crude Oil Pipeline, the system it is expanding.