(Adds flow rates, details on Permian projects)
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Energy Transfer LP said on Thursday it boosted capacity on the Dakota Access pipeline system to 570,000 barrels per day (bpd) as production in the Bakken shale basin has climbed to record highs.
Flows on the pipeline averaged above 500,000 bpd in the fourth quarter and nominations for space on the line exceeded available capacity during the quarter, a company executive said on its earnings call.
Energy Transfer said it is considering more expansions on the system due to the surge in demand, adding it would be able to add capacity by increasing horsepower to boost throughput.
In North Dakota's Bakken region, shale production is estimated to rise about 13,000 bpd to a record 1.45 million bpd in March.
A shale revolution has helped propel the United States to the position of world's biggest crude oil producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Total crude production has climbed to a weekly record of 11.9 million bpd.
Energy Transfer also said it has enough commitments to move forward on a proposed a 600-mile pipeline from the Permian Basin, the biggest oilpatch in the country, to the Gulf Coast that would add at least 1 million bpd of capacity.
However, the company said it is now in talks with Exxon Mobil Corp and Plains All American Pipeline LP to possibly combine the two projects.
Exxon, Plains and Lotus Midstream said last month they will build a pipeline that can carry over 1 million bpd of oil and condensates from the Permian. That line is expected to begin operations in the first half of 2021.
Energy Transfer's Permian-to-Gulf-Coast (PGC) pipeline was expected to be in service in mid-2020, but it is now more likely to startup in 2021, if a Final Investment Decision (FID) can be made in the next 30 days.
"We're in serious discussions with Exxon and Plains, if it makes more sense to join their project and have fewer projects built that are full on day one, that is certainly a possible direction we'll go," a company executive said.
Flows on all three lines of the company's existing Permian Express pipelines are running at full capacity.
Energy Transfer also said it is nearing completion of the construction on the Bayou Bridge system's segment from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana. Commercial operations are expected to begin in March.
When completed, Bayou Bridge is expected to be capable of moving up to 480,000 bpd of crude from different sources to the St. James hub, which is home to refineries located in the Gulf Coast region. (Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)