And just like that, Dallas’ Energy Transfer and Sunoco are $2 billion richer
Energy Transfer Partners LP, the oil- and gas-pipeline megacompany led by Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren, hasn’t made too many positive headlines lately.
That changes with Wednesday’s announcement that Energy Transfer and one of its subsidiaries, Sunoco Logistics Partners, will collect $2 billion in cash for a minority stake in a Bakken pipeline project.
The buyers are Canada-based Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. and Oklahoma-based Marathon Petroleum Corp. The stake they’re buying represents 36.75 percent of the project.
Energy Transfer’s woes have gone beyond those of its peers’ struggles with the slump in oil and gas prices. Energy Transfer Equity famously got tangled in a $38 billion attempt to merge with Tulsa’s Williams Cos. to create one of the world’s biggest energy pipeline companies.
But the financial sense for the plan vanished in the price slump. In June, ETE found a legal loophole that appears to have allowed it to back out without a penalty– though there may well be lawsuits to come.
Energy Transfer is set to release its second-quarter financial results after the market closes Wednesday. And unless it’s figured out a way to boost profits that others have not, the numbers may well be unpleasant. The investor call is set for Thursday morning.
Energy Transfer and Sunoco plan to use the cash to pay down debt and fund other growth projects.
The pipeline project is ambitious: A 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline to link the Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill., plus over 700 miles of pipeline converted to crude service from Patoka to Nederland, Texas. It’s supposed to carry about 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Planning for the pipeline started when drilling in the Bakken was booming before the price slump.