Enterprise reports 23 percent profit jump

Enterprise Products Partners announced Thursday a 23 percent jump in third-quarter profit and the launch of an expanded crude storage terminal in Harris County, as the company grows to service the nation’s flourishing oil and natural gas regions.

The Houston-based company said it completed the first expansion phase of its Enterprise Crude Houston terminal, adding 750,000 barrels of crude oil storage capacity. It plans to add as much as 900,000 additional barrels of storage by the first quarter of 2014.

“Enterprise’s ECHO facility is at the center of a historic and fundamental shift in our nation’s crude oil infrastructure by linking growing supplies of North American crude and condensate production with the U.S. Gulf Coast refining complex,” said A.J. “Jim” Teague, executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a written statement.

Enterprise says the New York Mercantile Exchange is assessing the terminal as a regional pricing point for the U.S. Gulf Coast crude market.

The ECHO terminal is the first in a flurry of projects worth $3.7 billion that Enterprise plans to launch between now and the end of 2013, including expansions of its Houston Ship Channel export terminal. The company also is planning an Eagle Ford crude oil pipeline joint venture with Plains All American.

Already, more than $4 billion in newly constructed assets have been put into operation over the past year, including the reversal of the Seaway crude oil pipeline, which now carries the product from a congested hub in Cushing, Okla. to the Gulf Coast.

Enterprise Products Partners third-quarter earnings rose to $588 million, or 66 cents per diluted unit, for the three-month period ending Sept. 30. That’s up from $480 million, or 55 cents per unit, the company earned during the same period in 2011, according to the company.

Enterprise, which operates oil and natural gas pipelines, storage facilities and processing plants, transported larger volumes compared to the third quarter of 2011. Natural gas pipelines recorded a 12 percent increase in transported volumes, carrying a record 14.9 trillion British thermal units per day. Pipelines carrying liquid products, including crude oil and fuels, recorded a 6 percent increase in volumes.

“This volume growth in our fee-based businesses along with attractive sales margins led to another quarter of strong financial performance,” said CEO Michael A. Creel in a written statement.