Texas sees pipelines, infrastructure as energy leverage

U.S. crude oil is becoming more competitive because of the big discount it has over Persian Gulf oil.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Sept. 22, 2017 at 6:25 AM
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Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Investing in pipelines and port infrastructure could help bolster the U.S. leadership position on the global energy stage, a Texas official said.

Ryan Sitton, an official with the Texas Railroad Commission, the state's energy regulator, said the U.S. position as an energy leader was supported by good infrastructure and improved operational efficiency. This, he said, is why energy-hungry countries in Asia are looking at the United States to satisfy their appetites.

"If we continue to invest in our ports, pipelines and refineries, our generation's legacy will be establishing the United States as a global energy powerhouse," he said in a statement.

U.S. oil is becoming competitive in the Asian market in part because of the discount for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, against the Persian Gulf benchmark, Dubai. In early Friday trading, Dubai crude had a $4.30 per barrel premium over WTI.

The price for WTI, however, may be undervalued because of the impact on U.S. refineries by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the southern Texas coast in late August. Some operations are still limited, leaving U.S. crude oil locked in storage.

Karr Ingham, an economist with the independent Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, noted earlier this year that U.S. oil was becoming more competitive, just as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries curb output to balance an oversupplied market.

Apart from certain cases, U.S. crude oil exports were restricted until late in the second term of U.S. President Barack Obama. At 689,000 barrels per day, the four-week average for U.S. oil exports is up 25 percent from last year.

For natural gas, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said energy sector reforms in Mexico are good for Texas, which hosts some of the most lucrative shale basins in the country.

"Mexican energy reforms have opened the door to shale gas from the United States and imports are booming," they said in a recent report.

Renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement could impact trade relations with Mexico. For liquefied natural gas, which could reach the Asian markets, a special permit is needed for deliveries to countries that don't have a free-trade deal with the United States.

Shale company ONEOK Partners announced plans two years ago to build a 200-mile long pipeline that would carry natural gas from a shale basin in Texas to an international connection at the Mexican border

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