Energy Transfer’s Sunoco Logistics buys into Permian from Vitol

Sunoco Logistics is buying big into the Permian Basin near Midland by acquiring a crude oil terminal and pipeline system for $760 million from Vitol Inc.

Sunoco is owned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer, which saw its planned acquisition of the Williams Cos. fall apart earlier this year.

The deal includes Sunoco buying a 2 million barrel crude oil terminal in Midland, as well as associated pipeline and gathering systems. The acquisition also gives Sunoco the 50 percent stake that Vitol had in their SunVit Pipeline joint venture. The SunVit system connects the terminal to its Permian Express 2 pipeline. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year.

Energy Transfer acquired the famed Sunoco brand in 2012. The Energy Transfer umbrella today includes Sunoco, the Southern Union Co. and the Stripes brand of retail stores, and counts four publicly traded entities — Energy Transfer Equity, Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco and Sunoco Logistics Partners.

While not a household name, the Switzerland-based Vitol Group is the world’s largest independent crude oil trader.

Sunoco Logistics President and CEO Michael Hennigan called the deal a great strategic fit in the resilient Permian market, which is seeing drilling rigs added with oil prices remaining below $50 a barrel.

“The addition of the Vitol system is an excellent synergistic fit to our growing crude platform in the Permian Basin,” Hennigan said in the announcement. “The Permian Basin is the most prolific of all of the U.S. shale areas with strong growth expectations. The Vitol pipeline assets are located in what we believe are the three best counties in the Midland Basin. Adding a 2 million barrel terminal in Midland is very complimentary to our Permian strategy.”

To help fund the deal, Sunoco Logistics will reduce its distribution payouts to Energy Transfer investors for two years for a total of $60 million.

“Long-term, with Energy Transfer’s growing crude gathering presence in West Texas combined with our extensive mainline crude platform and gathering assets, we expect growth opportunities for our partnerships in this very competitive region,” Hennigan added.

Sunoco Logistics also is recovering from an Aug. 12 oil terminal flash fire that severely burned four workers near Beaumont in Nederland.  Sunoco is expanding  its crude oil storage capacity from tankers and pipelines in Nederland, including the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline that was completed in 2014.