(Adds quotes, details about project)
By Kristen Hays
HOUSTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Phillips 66 may consider increasing its 25 percent stake in Energy Transfer Partners’ pipeline project to move North Dakota Bakken oil to Illinois and Texas, but likes its current commitment as is, President Tim Taylor told analysts on Friday.
Energy Transfer on Wednesday said it was evaluating financing of its $4.78 billion Bakken pipeline, and that measure would “materially reduce the direct spending required” for it.
Energy Transfer said its 2016 growth capital funding had already been reduced by $750 million to $4.2 billion from last November’s projections. Energy Transfer and its subsidiary, Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, can further reduce their overall 2016 capital funding by shrinking required spending on the project.
Taylor said during Phillips 66’s quarterly earnings call that their partners on the project have “been exploring various options,” and the company may consider increasing its stake but “our commitment is where we would like it to be at this point.”
The project involves two legs: the new 1,168-mile (1,879 km) North Dakota-to-Illinois Dakota Access Pipeline; and the 744-mile (1,197 km) Illinois-to-Texas Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline, mostly a natural gas line converted to move oil.
The first line can connect to other pipelines at the Patoka, Illinois hub, while the second line will move crude to Sunoco’s Nederland, Texas terminal, near Phillips 66’s Beaumont terminal.
Taylor said the company could take Bakken crude moved to Texas on the new system, load it onto tankers and ship it to Phillips 66’s New Jersey refinery. That refinery receives Bakken crude via rail, but the roundabout pipeline/ship route is “very competitive” with rail, he said.
Oil-by-rail has fallen as discounts of domestic compared to global crudes narrowed sharply in the global oil rout, eroding profitability of moving it by train.
Taylor wouldn’t say how much cheaper the pipeline/tanker option was other than the cost was “substantially less than rail.” (Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by James Dalgleish)