FERC Approves Final 2 Laterals on Rover Pipeline

January 2019

Energy Transfer said service has begun on the final two laterals of Rover Pipeline following final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Rover has been operational since August 2017, but FERC’s approval of the Sherwood Lateral, CGT Lateral and associated compression and metering facilities provides additional receipt and delivery points for natural gas production in West Virginia.

The 713-mile Rover Pipeline transports up to 3.25 Bcf/d of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale production areas.

Rover transports natural gas from processing plants in West Virginia, Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania to the Midwest Hub, near Defiance, Ohio, for delivery to markets across the U.S., as well as to the Union Gas Dawn Storage Hub in Ontario, Canada.

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WhiteWater Holds Open Season for NM-Texas Pipeline

WhiteWater Midstream commenced a binding open season to solicit commitments for firm natural gas transportation service from multiple points in Eddy County, N.M., to delivery points in northern Culberson County, Texas.

Austin-based WhiteWater said its proposed Steady Eddy Pipeline project would provide 500,000 MMBtu/d of interstate gas transportation service to New Mexico gas processors, allowing them access to multiple delivery point options in New Mexico and Texas.

The Steady Eddy Pipeline project would include construction of a 24” pipeline and associated metering stations in Eddy County connecting to one or more delivery points in Texas.

The open season for the Permian Basin project will conclude Feb. 15.

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Colorado Voters Reject Proposition 112

Colorado Voters Reject Proposition 112

Colorado’s oil and gas industry breathed a sigh of relief as voters rejected a proposal to require oil and gas wells be at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, waterways and other areas deemed vulnerable. Had Proposition 112 passed it would have made the half-mile buffer state law everywhere except on federal lands. Currently in Colorado, there is a 1,000-foot set-back in place for schools and hospitals, as well as a 500-foot buffer for residential properties.

“We’re grateful that Coloradans stood with the energy sector to oppose this measure,” said Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, in a statement. “I want every Coloradan to know that we are committed to developing our resources in a responsible manner that protects the environment and keeps our employees and communities healthy and safe.”

Neil Ray, president of the Colorado Alliance of Mineral and Royalty Owners added, “We’re incredibly grateful that Colorado voted against Proposition 112. Beyond the devastating economic impact, Proposition 112 would have stripped mineral owners of their property rights by placing large swaths of the state off limits for mineral development.”

There are over 600,000 mineral owners with property rights in Colorado that Proposition 112 would have affected negatively, along with an estimated 4.6 % in industry job loss. 

Colorado Rising, the group backing the measure, was outspent nearly 43 to one. Protect Colorado, funded almost exclusively by the oil and gas industry, poured in more than $36 million to offset the attack. 

Proponents of the setback increase argued a larger buffer is crucial to preventing adverse health and safety impacts for people who live and work near oil and gas operations. They contended that health risks from being exposed to a heavily industrialized activity like hydraulic fracturing are too high under the current distance restrictions set by the state. They cited methane and cancer-causing benzene as just two of dozens of potentially harmful compounds associated with oil and gas activity.

Kelly Nordini, executive director with Conservation Colorado, said the defeat of Proposition 112 doesn’t mean that “voters want an oil and gas rig closer to their homes, schools, or hospitals,” adding, “Let’s be clear: the oil and gas industry spent at least $30 million to beat this measure. The fact remains the oil and gas problem in this state has not been solved.”

Opponents argued the increase would dislodge an industry crucial to Colorado’s economy and would put the brakes on energy extraction as companies moved from Colorado to explore less restrictive states. 

Wouter Van Kempen, CEO of DCP Midstream, a Denver-based natural gas pipeline and processing company, predicts the oil and gas industry will work with the Colorado legislature to keep a near-ban like Proposition 112 from happening again and at the same time, give local communities some measure of comfort about drilling.

“I don’t think the last word has been written on oil and gas in the state,” Van Kempen said. “There are still going to be a couple other chapters.”

Source Article: HERE

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Outgoing Michigan Governor Pushing for Great Lakes Pipeline

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to use the final weeks of his tenure to lock in a deal allowing construction of a hotly debated oil pipeline tunnel beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes — a plan his successor opposes but may be powerless to stop.

The two-term Republican and his team are working on several fronts to seal an agreement with Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge for replacing the underwater segment of its Line 5, which carries about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, traversing large sections of northern Michigan.

A more than 4-mile-long section, divided into two pipes, lies on the floor of the churning Straits of Mackinac, the convergence between Lakes Huron and Michigan. Laid in 1953, the twin pipelines have become a target of environmentalists, native tribes, tourism-related businesses and other critics who say it’s ripe for a spill that could do catastrophic damage to the lakes and the regional economy.

While insisting they’re in sound condition, Enbridge reached an agreement with Snyder’s administration in October to decommission the pipes and drill a tunnel for a new line through bedrock below the straits. The project would take seven to 10 years and cost $350 million to $500 million, which Enbridge would pay.

Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, elected this month, pledged during her campaign to shut down Line 5 and criticized the tunnel plan — as did fellow Democrat Dana Nessel, who won the race for attorney general. Both take office in January and have said the Snyder administration should not steamroll the plan to enactment in the meantime.

A spokeswoman for Nessel said she was “deeply concerned and troubled by the hasty legislative rush-to-judgment efforts to push through a proposal that has not been properly vetted, that handcuffs Governor-elect Whitmer and Attorney General-elect Nessel before they even take office, and will have negative repercussions on the state of Michigan and its residents for generations.”

But Snyder’s team is plowing ahead. Keith Creagh, director of the Department of Natural Resources, told The Associated Press this week that he expects the final steps to be completed before Snyder leaves office.

“This is not a rush to finish,” Creagh said. “This is a culmination of four-plus years of looking at a very complex issue.”

A Republican-backed bill to be considered during a lame-duck legislative session resuming Tuesday would designate the Mackinac Bridge Authority as owner of the tunnel, with responsibility for overseeing construction and managing its operations while leasing it to Enbridge and other potential users, such as electric cable companies. Snyder’s office is also requesting $4.5 million for startup administrative costs and radar to monitor wave heights in the straits.

The seven-member bridge authority, whose sole responsibility since its creation in the 1950s has been to maintain the vehicular bridge that crosses the straits and links Michigan’s two peninsulas, heard from supporters and opponents Nov. 8 but took no action. Its next scheduled meeting is in February, but Creagh said he hopes the group will convene before January to ratify the tunnel plan. Snyder recently filled four vacancies on the authority, giving his appointees the majority.

The authority’s Democratic chairman, Patrick “Shorty” Gleason, signaled that he has little interest in calling a special meeting in December to accept oversight responsibility for the proposed structure before the governorship changes hands.

“If they think I or any member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority can be given an agreement with absolutely no negotiations or discussions with Enbridge and have it resolved within a couple weeks, there’s no way that’s possible,” he said. Gleason said the incoming administration’s views are “equally important,” and he hopes Snyder and Whitmer discuss the issue.

Opponents hope concerns about altering the bridge agency’s mission so significantly — raised even by people who don’t necessarily oppose the tunnel — will persuade the panel to delay a decision.

William Gnodtke, the outgoing chairman who was appointed by former Republican Gov. John Engler, and seven other former members issued a statement saying the plan “would mean a major dilution of the authority’s focus on the bridge” and “has the potential to seriously compromise its effectiveness in managing Michigan’s single largest asset.”

Gnodtke and current bridge authority member Barbara Brown are among leaders of the newly formed Friends of Mackinac Bridge, which will lobby state officials to slow things down and establish a separate agency to manage the tunnel if one is built, said Jim Lively of the Traverse City-based Groundworks Center for Resilient Communities.

For Love of Water, an environmental group, contends the plan would expose the bridge authority to financial and legal liability in the event of a rupture or other disaster, despite a provision in the agreement that Enbridge would pony up at least $1.8 billion to deal with potential spills.

“We’re living in a moment of energy transition and the idea of building a tunnel under the Great Lakes for a foreign oil company to use for the next century has not been given the forethought and due diligence that the public demands,” executive director Liz Kirkwood said.

Creagh said the bridge authority was the logical choice to oversee the tunnel.

“They have an impeccable record, they’ve done a great job with the bridge,” he said. “They’ve been bipartisan, looked out not just for the bridge, but for the straits.”

Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy declined to speculate about the fate of the agreement if it isn’t completed before Whitmer becomes governor.

“We believe now is the time to build for the future,” Duffy said. “That’s what our agreement with the state is about — protecting the straits and having energy independence.”

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Aqua America to Acquire Peoples in Merger of Water, Gas Utilities


Water and wastewater utility Aqua America said it agreed to acquire natural gas utility operator Peoples in a $4.2 billion deal to create a company that is “uniquely positioned to have a powerful impact on improving the nation’s infrastructure reliability.”

The combined company would have $10.8 billion in assets and serve 1.74 million water and gas utility customer connections in 10 U.S. states with a projected regulated rate base of more than $7.2 billion.

Aqua America to Acquire Peoples in Merger of Water, Gas Utilities“By bringing together water and natural gas distribution utility companies that share a core mission of providing essential services to customers, the resulting company will be positioned to grow and drive value, as well as make a long-term, positive contribution to our nation’s infrastructure challenges and ensure service reliability for generations to come,” said Christopher Franklin, chairman and CEO of Aqua America.

“The acquisition of Peoples is a great strategic fit and aligns directly with our growth strategy and core competencies of building and rehabilitating infrastructure, timely regulatory recovery, and operational excellence,” Franklin said, adding that “the new leadership team will take an integrated management approach to cooperatively running the utilities.”

Franklin would continue lead the combined company after the merger, with Aqua’s headquarters remaining in Bryn Mawr, Penn., and Peoples and its employees remaining in Pittsburgh as its natural gas operating subsidiary. Morgan O’Brien would continue to lead Peoples, which consists of Peoples Natural Gas Company, Peoples Gas Company and Delta Natural Gas Company.

In the merger announcement, O’Brien noted “the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has demonstrated its support for our infrastructure investment program, through which we will replace more than 3,100 miles of bare steel and cast-iron pipe in the coming years at a current rate of about 150 miles per year,” said O’Brien.

Peoples reportedly has sought to expand into the water and wastewater utility business through a deal with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) to replace its aging infrastructure, and the Aqua announcement prompted widespread media coverage and speculation in Pennsylvania, which accounts for more than 77 percent of the companies’ combined total rate base.

“Some of the same things that attracted Peoples to make a pitch to help operate the (PWSA) earlier this year also made the Pittsburgh gas company appealing for Aqua.  Namely, old pipes in the ground,” Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Anya Litvak wrote.  “Those pipes need to be replaced and utilities can recover the cost of doing so — along with an attractive rate of return — through surcharges on customer bills. That’s quicker than asking regulators to fold those costs into rate increases.”

Aqua said it expects significant growth in rate base and earnings will be “driven by pipe-replacement capital expenditures, new customer connections and continued success in municipal acquisitions.”

The proposed merger reflects an enterprise value of Peoples of $4.275 billion, which includes the assumption of approximately $1.3 billion of debt. The acquisition is supported by a fully committed bridge facility, with permanent financing to include “an appropriate mix of equity and debt to target a strong balance sheet and investment-grade credit ratings,” Aqua said.

The transaction is projected to close in mid-2019, subject to approval by public utility commissions in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Source – P&GJ Staff Report

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Permian Highway Pipeline moves forward

October 2018 

EagleClaw Midstream Ventures LLC (EagleClaw) announced a final investment decision to proceed with the Permian Highway Pipeline Project (PHP Project) after having executed definitive joint venture agreements and having secured sufficient firm transportation agreements with shippers. Nearly all capacity available on the system is subscribed and committed under long-term, binding transportation agreements. The remaining capacity is expected to be awarded shortly.

permian highway pipeline map
Permian Highway Pipeline Project Map courtesy of EagleClaw Midstream Ventures LLC (EagleClaw)

Shippers that have committed to the project include EagleClaw, Apache Corp., and XTO Energy Inc., amongst others. As previously announced, KMTP and EagleClaw will be the initial partners, each with a 50 percent ownership interest in the project. KMTP will build and operate the pipeline. Apache will have the option to acquire equity from the initial partners and has announced its intent to assign that option to Altus Midstream, a new company announced by Apache and Kayne Anderson Acquisition Corp. KMI’s and EagleClaw’s ultimate ownership interest may vary between approximately 27 percent and 50 percent, depending on the outcome of ownership options held by anchor shippers.

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The approximately $2 billion PHP Project will provide an outlet for increased natural gas production from the Permian Basin to growing market areas along the Texas Gulf Coast and is designed to transport up to 2 Bcf/d of natural gas through approximately 430 miles of 42-inch pipeline from the Waha to Katy, TX, areas, with connections to the US Gulf Coast and Mexico markets. The PHP Project is expected to be in service in late 2020, assuming timely receipt of the requisite regulatory approvals.

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Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia

Virginia Grants Key Approval to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Clearing the Way for Construction

October 20

 Virginia regulators say they have cleared the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline to begin construction on its 300-mile track across the state with the approval of three crucial environmental protection plans.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said late Friday that it had signed off on plans to control erosion and sediment, manage water runoff from storms and limit damage to the fragile “karst” geography of certain mountainous areas as blasting and digging for the natural gas pipeline gets underway.

Dominion Energy, which is leading a consortium of companies in building the $6 billion project, said that it will now seek final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to get work started.

“This is a major step forward for the project,” Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby said in a news release. “We’re eager to get to work in Virginia so we can build on the significant progress we’ve made in West Virginia and North Carolina.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will run about 600 miles from West Virginia, into Virginia’s Highland County, across the Shenandoah region and through central Virginia into North Carolina. Construction has already begun in the other two states, and some tree-cutting took place in Virginia early this year.

But the state DEQ had held up on final approval of the key environmental-protection plans as regulators wrestled with the unusual demands of a gigantic, 42-inch-diameter pipeline that would run through steep terrain and make thousands of waterway crossings.

Another major project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, got similar approval a year ago and is further along in construction. That project, which is being built by a consortium led by EQT Midstream Partners of Pittsburgh, follows a 300-mile route from West Virginia through the far southwest of Virginia and into North Carolina.

Environmentalists vehemently oppose both projects, as do many landowners whose property is being taken against their wishes through eminent domain. Several legal challenges have led federal judges to delay the projects at various points this year.

This month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put a stoppage on permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross waterways in Virginia.

Against that background, conservation groups condemned the state’s approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plans on Friday night.

“The certification comes even as evidence mounts in Southwest Virginia that state regulations did little to keep communities safe from the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which has clogged some of our state’s cleanest waters with mud and sediment as crews trenched across steep, rugged, flashflood-prone terrain,” the Virginia League of Conservation Voters said in a news release.

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David Sligh, a former DEQ scientist who now works with the Wild Virginia advocacy group, took issue with the department’s claim that the project is now cleared for construction. The State Water Control Board, an oversight panel appointed by the governor, said in preliminary review of the plans last year that it wanted a chance for final approval once the DEQ completed its work.

The DEQ “is attempting to usurp the authority that legally rests with the citizen members of the Board,” Sligh said via email. Over the summer, a separate advisory panel appointed by the governor urged a halt to pipeline activity until several problems could be resolved.

But the administration of Gov. Ralph Northam (D) appears to have signed off on the department’s approval. Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler said in the department’s news release that the regulators’ “comprehensive review allows us to remain confident that these final construction plans will protect natural resources.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline still faces at least one more significant state hurdle: The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board is set to act next month on an air-quality permit for a compressor station in Buckingham County.

That facility, which would keep the gas flowing through the pipeline, is proposed for a historic African American community called Union Hill and has drawn fierce opposition from residents and advocates who say it poses threats to health and safety.

  • Gregory S. SchneiderGreg Schneider covers Virginia from the Richmond bureau. He was The Washington Post’s business editor for more than seven years, and before that served stints as deputy business editor, national security editor and technology editor. He has also covered aviation security, the auto industry and the defense industry for The Post. 

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Tallgrass, Silver Creek Expand Powder River Venture

Tallgrass, Silver Creek Expand Powder River Venture

Tallgrass Energy and Silver Creek Midstream have agreed to expand their Powder River Basin joint venture to transport crude oil production from the Powder River Basin to Guernsey, Wyoming.

The expanded joint venture, named Powder River Gateway, will own the existing 90 kbbls/d-Powder River Express Pipeline (PRE) and the Iron Horse Pipeline, which is scheduled to commence operations early next year with an initial capacity of 100 kbbls/d, expandable up to 200 kbbls/d.

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Those two pipelines will transport crude production from Silver Creek’s Pronghorn Terminal to joint venture-owned terminal facilities in Guernsey for access to Tallgrass’ Pony Express crude pipeline system and two other existing takeaway pipelines.
Tallgrass will operate Powder River Gateway and own 51 percent of the venture, and Silver Creek will own 49 percent.
Including recent acquisitions Silver Creek will own and operate a total of 120 miles of existing pipeline and have more than 330,000 acres dedicated from Powder River Basin producers. Its infrastructure includes rail capability in and out of Silver Creek’s Pronghorn Terminal, batching capabilities throughout the system for at least three specs of crude, and trucking capabilities through a transportation fleet to meet interim service needs as gathering pipelines are constructed.
Silver Creek plans to begin construction before the end of the year on an expansion of its gathering and trunkline infrastructure to add an initial 52 miles of crude pipelines and 100,000 barrels of storage.
Tallgrass, which owns and operates Pony Express, is developing the Seahorse Pipeline and Plaquemines Liquids Terminal projects. Through its Powder River Gateway venture, it intends to create joint tariffs with both Pony Express and Seahorse to provide seamless transportation for Iron Horse and PRE shippers to Cushing, Oklahoma, and St. James, Louisiana.
Pony Express intends to launch an open season for additional expansion capacity out of Powder River Gateway’s Guernsey facility, in November 2018.

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An Investor’s Guide to Offshore

Offshore got decimated in the oil crash, but the industry might finally be turning a corner toward huge long-term growth.

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Oct 6, 2018 at 7:30PM
Oil’s the comeback kid, but tell that to offshore investors. While other oil niches are starting to see green, offshore’s recovery has been painfully sluggish. Or, looking at it another way, this might be the bottom for offshore, and there’s huge upside from here.
In this week’s episode of Industry Focus: Energy, host Nick Sciple, together with Jason Hall and Tyler Crowe, explain how offshore companies work, where the industry is today, and what investors should watch with these companies. Tune in to learn what sets Transocean(NYSE:RIG)Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO)Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL), and Ensco(NYSE:ESV) apart from each other, what kind of risk/reward profile each company has to offer, some critical points and trends investors need to know before diving into offshore, and much more.

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A full transcript follows the video.

Video link here

This video was recorded on Oct. 4, 2018.

Nick Sciple: Welcome to Industry Focus, the podcast that dives into a different sector of the stock market every day. Today is Thursday, Oct. 4, and we’re discussing offshore drillers. I’m your host, Nick Sciple, and today I’m joined in studio by Motley Fool contributors Jason Hall and Tyler Crowe. Jason and Tyler are here today for the writers’ conference. How about y’all talk about how y’all got here for the show? I know Jason’s from out in California. Tyler came a little bit further. You want to talk about that?
INDUSTRY FOCUS // Energy // 10-04-2018
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Jason Hall: Just a little further.

Tyler Crowe: Just a little bit further. Yeah, I live in Malawi, which is in South Central Africa. About a 30-hour flight. It was a long trajectory to get here.

Sciple: A little nap on the plane, maybe a little a little neck pillow, get you all situated, ready to go?

Crowe: Lots of movies. I catch up on a lot of movies when I’m on the flight.

Sciple: I’m glad to have both of y’all in the studio with us today talking about offshore drillers. First off the top for investors, listeners, what exactly is offshore drilling? What do the companies do? What are the services they provide? Who are their clients?

Hall: It’s a really interesting industry. The oil and gas industry is filled with specialized companies that focus on certain things. These are the companies that are contracted by oil producers, whether it’s a nationalized oil producer, one of the large international oil majors, or a small independent, that actually do the drilling and they do the exploration work. Within the offshore, there’s different parts of it. You have more of the traditional shallow water work, which is a lot of jack-up rigs, where the rigs actually sit on the surface of the sea, and then they drill underneath.

Probably the biggest growing part, and where most of the development is going to be in the future, is in floaters. There are two groups of these floating vessels. You have semi-submersibles, which are able to submerse part of the rig. Then you have the true floating drillships. These vessels are capable of drilling in much deeper water. They’re generally capable of drilling much deeper under the surface to get to where the oil and gas resources are.

Crowe: It’s very much a fit sort of thing. When you have a drillship, you’re going to be in a little bit deeper waters, probably in better water conditions vs. like a semi-submersible, which is really good for harsher environment places, like, say, like off the coast of Norway, where you have very high seas, Arctic conditions, things like that. They’re built to fit based on of where in the ocean they are.

Sciple: Right. Can investors think of these players as more, we talked about oilfield servicers a couple of weeks ago with Jason, as more oilfield servicers specialized for the offshore? Is that a good way to think about it?

Crowe: Yeah, absolutely. It’s hyper-specialized, too. You have your major diversified oil services companies, like a Halliburton or a Schlumberger, who are actually going to do some of the typical services that they do on-shore, as well. The oil rig drillers, the companies we’re talking about specifically here, are ones that own the rigs themselves and lease them out to the companies. They’re very similar to an equipment rental company, except you’re renting something that’s $500 million and it lasts for three years.

Hall: And that rental, generally, also comes with trained staff that runs the rigs and that sort of thing. So you’re also renting the reputation and the capability of that particular company and their skill set in a certain area or type of operation, like rough seas, that kind of thing.

Sciple: Right. OK, yeah. So that’s a good introduction to the space. Let’s talk about offshore drilling has had a little bit of a pullback over the past few years, like everything in oil, like we’ve discussed. There’s really been a pullback in demand. Rig daily leases back before the downturn, somewhere in the range of $800,000 a day, that day rate for these rigs. Now they’re closer to the $200,000 range. Can you talk about how this space has moved since the downturn, and where we’re sitting today?

Hall: Tyler, I think you can probably offer a little more color, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this has probably been the hardest-hit sector, and definitely the longest in terms of the downturn. A lot of the sectors are starting to bounce back. This is the one that’s absolutely taking the longest, and it’s been the most beaten down.

Crowe: Yeah, one of the things that made it so challenging during this downturn for offshore is the long-term capital commitment that it takes to build an offshore rig. Let’s wind the clock back to 2014. Offshore oil is going bonkers. It was $110. Everybody wanted to spend on it big. In retrospect, kind of questionable prospects. Places like the Arctic, things like that, because we thought we were going to have high oil for a very long time. Then, as the money went away, a lot of oil companies that were the producers, still needed to produce oil, but they didn’t want to tie up capital for that long. They weren’t sure where oil was going. So, they started going into the short-cycle stuff that we saw. Moving into shale, maybe trying to juice a little bit more from your existing sources so you didn’t have to spend money.

That’s why the downturn has lasted so long and so severely. It’s one of those last-barrel-added parts of the industry. That’s why we’re seeing it takes so long to recover in relation to everyone else.

Sciple: Right. Just the amount of capital expenditure you have to have to put these wells out in open ocean and transport it around, it can get pretty expensive. Like you said, back in 2014, we were seeing breakeven prices on these wells at up to $80 a barrel. Today, we’re excited that oil has barely cracked $80 on the Brent measure of oil prices. Forbes quoted that a trillion dollars in projects were cancelled between 2014 and this year. There’s definitely been a significant pullback.

With that, as well, this is maybe the first industry to get hit when oil starts going downhill, and it’s going to be one of the last ones to start moving when oil starts bouncing back. We’re seeing a little bit of signs there. We’ve seen an uptrend in final investment decisions over the past few years. Well tendering activity is increasing. We reached the cyclical bottom in Q2 2016, and it’s been trending up, as far as the floaters under contract. We’re really seeing signs of more of an upturn.

Looking out over the next 18 months, are y’all expecting that to continue? What’s your expectation, given the current oil price environment where things are moving today?

Crowe: Every single bad experience has something good that comes out of it. One of the good things that came out of this as a result was the fact that the industry got better at what they did and brought down their costs significantly. We could call, 2014-2016 was basically an industry spanking for spending too much money. Offshore was one of the guilty suspects. Companies were spending money on basically made-to-fit for every single well that they drilled. Everything was a unique design. Every single build was unique. And the costs were really high. Because of this, they standardized a lot of things. The breakeven costs have gone down. So, on top of the increase in the price of oil, the cost for it has gone down significantly enough that it makes it more viable to do it. If you look at the international oil companies nowadays, they’re looking at offshore prospects in places like West Africa, Brazil, and South America, where your breakeven costs are getting much more in line with things like shale nowadays. It’s $40-%50 versus the $80-$90 that we saw four or five years ago. That’s certainly spurring a lot of that turnaround that you were talking about.

Hall: I think one of the key things to remember is that offshore oil, in terms of the cash production cost, is competitive with most other resources in the world. The issue is the upfront expense, and it’s the time that it takes to develop. Earlier, Tyler was talking about the quick-turn stuff that’s made shale so exciting and is going to continue to drive investment into shale, probably for the long term. It can be so quickly brought online and start producing cash.

But I think we’re at a point now, because the industry is so much healthier, that you’re going to start to continue to see more of these final investing decisions. The dollar numbers are going to continue to get bigger, because the cash flows are coming in from these other sources that are going to allow, especially the larger companies, to invest offshore as part of their long-term play. I know ExxonMobil, that’s a really big part of their strategy.

Crowe: Certainly, ExxonMobil is looking into some very exciting things that they have going on in certain parts of the world. But it’s not just them. In the most recent investment and marketing pitch from Transocean, they were saying that there’s about 57 projects that they expect a final investment decision over the next 18 months, worth 87 rig years, which is basically like, everything is broken down into day rates for rigs. That’s 87 times 365, how many total days that are going to be available. There’s a lot of work coming on in the next 18 months, which should be a good sign, a much healthier sign, for the industry.

Sciple: Right. The last thing I want to talk about, we’re going to mention Transocean and some companies on the back end of the show, is that offshore production really has to increase in the coming months and years. We’ve seen, earlier this decade, replacement rates, as far as recontracting these rigs, were up over 100%. Now, it’s down in the low 30s. Of the rigs that are coming offline, only about a third of that production is getting replaced year over year.

When offshore is a third of global oil production, this is a significant sign that investment needs to come in place to replace that production. Otherwise, oil prices are going to continue to rise as there is a shortage; and as oil prices rise, that’s only going to make these investments in offshore more compelling. If there’s not any investment in this space… it’s going to have to happen sooner or later. The economics will only become more appealing.

Crowe: Another part of the challenge, too, and to a certain extent we’ve seen it, tight oil has replaced a lot of what has been lost in offshore in just the decline curve. I think the big thing with the Permian right now is, we’re basically at capacity. They just can’t take out any more oil with the existing infrastructure. That’s another bigger issue is that. Sure, you can continue to drill. You can continue to develop. But you have to have infrastructure in place. And that infrastructure takes years to bring online. Even if you can bring a well online in a few weeks now, if there’s no infrastructure to get the oil out, it doesn’t matter.

I think that’s one of the things that’s pushing, that’s going to drive more investment back into offshore. There’s infrastructure there that can take that oil out.

Sciple: Yeah, and that timeline advantage of shale is going downhill as the infrastructure becomes tighter.

Talking about some of these offshore players, we mentioned in the first half of the show, there’s been a downturn. Almost every player is down 60%-70% over the past five years.

Crowe: That’s it? [laughs]

Sciple: Yeah, only 60%-70%. And some of these companies, I mean, Transocean is up 30% year to date. They’ve really suffered over the past few years. We’ve talked about the downturn, all those sorts of things.

Let’s talk about some of these companies. Let’s see if there’s a chance for them to bounce back.

Hall: Before we do that, there’s some extra context that’s important. These are the ones that are still around, these are the ones that are still going interest. There are a lot of others, especially smaller ones, that are they don’t exist anymore, that have been acquired or their assets have been acquired. These are the ones that are still here.

Sciple: That’s a good transition to go into Transocean, which just recently this month acquired another offshore player, Ocean Rig. You want to talk about that merger and what it’s done for Transocean, how it’s helped their competitive position?

Hall: It’s interesting. Ocean Rig, very small player, really specialized in the deepest water vessels, but had zero backlog. It was really a great opportunity to acquire some really high-quality assets, almost, I don’t want to say for a song, but it was a great situation.

I think the bigger thing is, Transocean has been so amazing over the downturn. I think the parallel for me has been Nucor, the big steelmaker that has been able to leverage downturns and make really strong acquisitions at bargain-basement prices. It’s going to be positioned so well coming out of the downturn, to really be the behemoth in the industry.

Crowe: I actually found Transocean quite fascinating. Heading into the downturn, they actually looked kind of questionable.

Hall: It was terrible, scary. Their debt load was enormous.

Crowe: They had a lot of cash on the books, but they had a really high debt load. And if you looked at their fleet of rigs at the time, it was old, it wasn’t very capable. They did look questionable. Right around 2015, maybe a little earlier, they brought in a new CEO, Jeremy Thigpen, from National Oilwell Varco. And he basically, I don’t want to say gutted the company, but really ripped off the Band-Aid. He took a lot of the old, unusable, they’re not going to be able to market well, equipment, and just scrapped it and said, “We’re not going to use these, so let’s use this now, rip off the Band-Aid, keep our debt manageable. Don’t spend more than we have to on managing these sorts of things.” And it has paid off in a major way. And they have been one of the ones that can actually consolidate the industry right now, while things are still cheap. But everyone is starting to look like it’s getting better.

Sciple: Right. And you mentioned taking these rigs off the market, deactivating these rigs. You also mentioned the valuation on these companies. I think that ties into something really significant with these companies you see with Transocean, you see with all the players — that tangible book value. Transocean right now is trading at 0.55 times its tangible book value. At first glance, it’s incredible. This thing, if you were to sell it off for its parts, would be worth double than what’s trading for in the market today.

But there’s a little bit hiding behind there. You talked about some of the writedowns they’ve taken on their rigs. Do you want to talk about how to contextualize this book value in the context of, there are going to be some more rigs getting written down? Since the start of the downturn, Transocean has written off 43 of their rigs. That’s continuing a little bit. Do you think that’s at the bottom?

Crowe: I think we’re starting to see the tail end of it. I mean, these guys took the machete to their fleet early and often. Granted, Transocean wasn’t the only one. Ensco did a very good job of it. Noble Corp., as well. Diamond Offshore was actually in a position where they didn’t have to because they already had a decent fleet already. But, in doing so, because the industry is starting to pick up, and because of the assets they have on their books today, we could still see some write downs, but I don’t think we’re going to see the $2 [billion to] $5 billion writedowns that we saw, it seemed like clockwork in the second quarter of every year over the past few years. With those out of the way, we might see a few here and there, but certainly, from that valuation standpoint of that low tangible book, I don’t see a point where they’re going to be cutting the tangible book value of their business by half again to make that valuation seem suspectly low.

Sciple: Yeah, and so when we normalize the valuations of these assets, you fully expect that we will still see this business trading below its real market book value.

Crowe: At least for this time being, I think.

Hall: Yeah, I think, my thesis is, I’ve invested relatively heavily in a number of offshore drillers. As I typically do, I get really excited, I’m optimistic and I go in early. I did go in a little bit early. But we’ve already seen, over the past year, some recovery in stock prices as a lot of the cutting has been done, and the operating costs stabilized. The reality is, even if you cold-stack a rig, you’re still paying some operating expense to keep it there. Scrapping, getting them completely off the books, is an operating cost benefit, as well.

Again, I think we’re kind of at that point now, where the businesses are what they are. The reality is, we’re going to see probably a year, a year and a half, where things are probably going to look somewhat similar to the way they are. Even as these new contracts come online, and even though they’ve cleaned up the fleets and they’ve scrapped what they’re going to scrap, these guys still have a ton of rigs that aren’t working. So, even as they’re bringing rigs online, it’s not necessarily going to add a substantial amount of earnings per share, cash flow per share, value at this point. It’s just going to balance out some of their operating expenses.

Crowe: I like to think of it like, because everything is a negotiated contract, who has the pricing power right now? And if you think about it in that way, the producers have the pricing, the negotiating power right now, as long as there’s a lot of available rigs. We saw it in shale probably 18 months ago, two years ago.

Hall: Oh, yeah, there were so many land rigs.

Crowe: There was an excess amount of equipment, which meant that companies were willing to take a steep discount just to keep things working and bring some cash in the door. I think we’re going to see the same thing with offshore for a while. You might not get great contracts because producers have the pricing power. But at the same time, you’re going to see an uptick in revenue, you might start to see some breakeven into profitability again. But you’re certainly not going to see the gangbuster profit margins that we saw five, six years ago.

Sciple: Right. And today, we’re looking at maybe 60% utilization rate for these offshore rigs, versus five years ago, as you mentioned, we were looking at 90%-plus. When the market gets that tight, the pricing power shifts —

Hall: Shifts back to the offshore rig owners again.

Sciple: Correct. Right now, that shift has not taken place. But the way we’re seeing the market play out, there is a good chance that that shift could take place and really start driving profits for these guys.

Any last things on Transocean before we transition to any of the other players? Anything you want to call out?

Hall: I think the interesting thing about Transocean is, it’s not just that it’s going to be the dominant behemoth in terms of its total size. I think there’s value there. Again, half of book value. It’s going to probably continue to trade at a discount to book value for a while. But I think if you’re patient and you’re willing to invest and ride out whatever happens, even starting a position now, as the market tightens and day rates come back up, and the valuation starts to normalize, there’s a tremendous amount of upside, if you can just ride out that volatility.

Crowe: The only other thing I would say about Transocean specifically is, watching them over the past five years, you have to really consider management and how they’ve been able to handle the downturn, and how they’re going to handle the upturn. If you’ve watched what Transocean has done over the past five years, it would be hard to argue who has handled probably a less favorable situation going in and putting themselves in a good position coming out.

Sciple: Let’s swing and now into Ensco, which is another company trading 0.44 times its tangible book, another company just made an acquisition, Atwood Oceanics. Let’s give an overview on this business. What makes it different from Transocean? There’s going to be a lot of similarities, but what makes it stand apart on its own?

Hall: I think the first thing that’s different is, it’s much smaller. It has a much smaller backlog of work. On one hand, that creates additional risk. The nice thing about a backlog of work is, you have contracted revenue that’s coming in, so there’s some predictability. But the thing that makes Ensco really interesting from an investing perspective is, you’ve got some similarities, in terms of management that’s been really nimble. But the way that they’re playing the market, I think, is what I really like. I think in general, now is the time that it works. You talk about day rates having come down so much. A substantial portion of that was really struggling contractors that were taking revenue however they could get it. The people that are left, the companies that are left, the people making those decisions, are a hell of a lot more disciplined. I think that you’re going to see day rates continue to creep back up because there’s a lot less of just taking whatever revenue they can get.

So, even though there’s still an oversupply, and, yeah, the producers definitely have the leverage, the producers that are here — Ensco’s CEO on the latest earnings call said flatly that they have no interest in signing long-term deals at current rates. Like a third of their active vessels are not under contract. But, they have a lot of liquidity, so they can ride it out. They’re in a position where they can take these one well, two well deals, bridge the gap, tap their liquidity if they need to. And then, as the market tightens, then they can start signing these long-term contracts at higher day rates. It’s going to take a couple of years for that to play out.

The thing that I like about Ensco is, they have a great fleet, they have some really, really high-quality vessels, and they have the liquidity to ride things out. From a valuation perspective, it’s 42%-43% of book value. There’s even more potential upside there.

Crowe: But there’s more risk, too. I’m going to be the cold-water person on Ensco, just a little bit. I actually agree with a lot of what Jason had to say on this one. The only thing that kind of gives me a slight pause with them is, Transocean is basically deep offshore, floating semi-submersibles only. Ensco has a mixed fleet. Also has shallow water jack-ups. And, it’s a much older fleet. We were talking about writedowns. I wouldn’t be shocked to see with somebody like an Ensco, with these older shallow water assets, possibly being scrapped and seeing some turnover there that may hamper earnings for a little while longer.

They do have some good contracts on that shallow stuff. They work very heavily in the Middle East with Saudi Aramco and things like that. It’s not a super risk right now. But looking down the road, I would not be shocked if we saw some sort of turnover on that that could dampen the returns that you would get in somebody that was a more pure new fleet.

Hall: Yeah, that’s fair. I think it’s also worth pointing out that it’s the least important part of their fleet, in terms of cash generation. That’s a real risk, but I want to make sure nobody overstates the potential risk there.

Sciple: Awesome! Like you said, that backlog is an asset to some businesses in that they have this reliable cash flow. But it also can be an asset not to have that, because when those prices tick up, you have available assets that you can really lock in those prices whenever you do get a backlog, maybe get it at a higher rate.

Hall: It’s like hedges for an oil producer. If your hedges lock in your revenue but they cap your upside, you have to factor that in.

Sciple: Maybe a little more quickly here, we’re kind of running long, let’s talk about Diamond Offshore, another operator in this space. Again, what makes them stand out between the Enscos and the Transoceans that we’ve talked about?

Crowe: Diamond, of all of them, has probably done the best job during the downturn. They actually had a very, very small fleet, but it’s a very highly capable fleet, and something that is pretty well contracted already. They’re like the exact opposite of Ensco in the sense that everything’s relatively well-contracted for a long time. So, you’re going to get a good return now, but it’s capped, vs. something like Ensco, where you’re going to have a higher upside. At least on that end, I think it’s probably the safest bet to do fine. But you’re not going to see, probably, something as a higher return later on.

Sciple: You’re looking for the floor, you buy Diamond Offshore. You’re looking for the ceiling, you buy Ensco. You’re looking for a little bit of diversification, maybe look at Transocean. It’s really all kinds of different risk appetites that investors might be looking for.

We were pretty quick on Diamond Offshore, but I think listeners will understand what’s going on there. Let’s go to Seadrill, probably the most interesting of these companies.

Crowe: I don’t think either of us can be very fair with Seadrill, because I think we both lost a lot of money on Seadrill. Anybody that’s invested in Seadrill a few years ago, and I know both him and I did. If anything, this might be emotionally charged.

Hall: The fact that I’m going to brag and say that I sold half of my stock before the company went bankrupt, it’s telling.

Crowe: Yes, very telling.

Sciple: For listeners to get to get some color, Seadrill emerged from bankruptcy back in April. As a result of that, equity shareholders prior to the bankruptcy really got hosed. I think only 2% of the equity post-bankruptcy is in the hands of people who were holding equity prior to bankruptcy. There’s really been a lot of dilution, paying off those creditors with equity. Now that it’s emerged from bankruptcy, do you think it’s in a better position? Have they cleaned up the balance sheet through that Chapter 11 filing? What’s your assessment of the business going forward from here?

Hall: It’s kind of yes and no. The balance sheet’s certainly stronger, they have more cash on the books, which is good. You talk about going back to when there was easy money, everybody was throwing money at offshore. One of the big mistakes that Seadrill made was new builds, just tons and tons of new builds it had on its books. We’re talking $1 [billion to] $1.5 billion a year that it had to put into to get these new builds ready to deliver, and at the same time, paying this insane dividend and essentially using the debt that it was taking on to pay the dividend, so it could use cash flows to pay for these new builds. It compounded everything. You fast forward to where we are today, and it’s still kind of dealing with that. Some of those new builds are still on the books, and it’s got these strange deals to sell them off once they’re finished being built.

I think the fleet’s in good shape. But there’s not a ton of backlog. I don’t say it’s a bigger Ensco without the older vessels, but that’s kind of a good way to think about it. Because of its size and the fact that it still has some new builds coming up, I’m just not sure. I’m interested because it looks cheap. Maybe I’m just jaded.

Crowe: I’m going to say I’m a little bit jaded, too. Everything he said about the fleet is right. I’m actually just going to punt on this one. I feel like this is one I really need to go dig into the financials a lot more.

Hall: Which we finally got, two and a half months after emerging from bankruptcy.

Crowe: Yeah. Once I actually have time to dig into the financials a little bit more, I’ll be able to speak a little bit more clearly on this one. I’m going to punt on that one for now, aside from my anger previously.

Sciple: For the listeners, it’s something to watch, as Jason mentioned, with that newer fleet and less of a backlog. It’s another high-upside play like you’re looking at with Ensco. But you got a whole wrench thrown into that with, they just came out of bankruptcy. Their financials are a little bit wonky now coming out after that. Definitely something to keep an eye on, maybe something to wait and see. See how things play out over the next few months to assess an investment opportunity.

Going away, we spent a lot of time talking about, this industry looks like it’s set up to really have an inflection point, start moving to the upside. What would have to happen to disrupt that thesis?

Hall: I think oil prices collapsing again. You go back to the most recent oil collapse, it was really just a matter of oversupply. That was the big thing that happened. It looks like we have the opposite situation now. You think about offshore and the decline. You think about the capacity issues with growing shale, the biggest shale plays. It’s going to take some time to develop the capacity there. You think about what’s going on with some of the OPEC countries, some of the larger national oil countries. It’s kind of a mess. Iran, we’re about to shut in a lot of oil there.

Crowe: Venezuela, people are leaving the country every single day.

Hall: Yeah. I think the biggest thing that makes offshore different, again, is the fact that these projects take so long to develop —

Crowe: A lot can happen in four years.

Hall: That’s the thing, it’s the time. That’s exactly it, it’s the time. You think about the Permian play and the opportunities there. You can bring a ton of oil on super quick. One quarter to the next, things can look really, really different. Generally to the upside. But in offshore, it can really take a long time. I think, anybody that wants to invest in this industry, you have to be willing to play the longer game. It’s probably going to take another year and a half to two years of tightening of the supply and demand of the vessels, because there’s still a ton of old vessels out there that other companies are operating that need to go away to really put some of the leverage back for pricing to go up. It’s just going to take time.

Sciple: Yeah, I think that’s the bottom line.

Crowe: And the biggest risk is that something changes in four years. We look at it today right now, and everything looks favorable. But three years down the road, could we see a demand response that is unfavorable? Could we see shale take off more than expected? Could we see other shale assets outside of the United States take off? It’s just one of those things where the realm of possibility becomes higher. So, your degree of difficulty of that paying off three to five years just makes it a little bit more challenging, so invest appropriately.

Sciple: Right. I think one thing to point out to investors, the thing that I think about is, these businesses, we’re investing on a valuation basis. These are all value plays. They’ve been beaten down too hard, everybody left them for dead and you’re coming to buy them today. What I’ve seen in my experience as an investor, when you’re investing in value plays, if you feel super comfortable, you’re probably in trouble. OK? You need to feel a little bit uncomfortable when you’re going into these. These companies are no different. Like I said, left for dead, in an industry that, everybody thinks renewables are taking over tomorrow. You really have a chance to have a contrarian play in an industry that really has a chance to move forward.

Any last thoughts before we send it away?

Hall: I think this is an excellent place to look at making multiple investments over a period of time as you observe and watch what’s happening, versus going all in at this point. I think that’s probably the best way most people should consider investing in it.

Crowe: What he said.

Sciple: [laughs] All right, guys. Awesome to have you guys on! Looking forward to the fool.comconference over these next couple of days and having all the writers in town.

For our listeners, as always, people on the program may own companies discussed on the show, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against stocks mentioned, so don’t buy or sell anything based solely on what you hear. Thanks to Austin Morgan for his work behind the glass. For Jason Hall and Tyler Crowe, I’m Nick Sciple. Thanks for listening and Fool on!

Jason Hall owns shares of Diamond Offshore Drilling, Ensco, Noble, Nucor, and Transocean. Nick Sciple has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tyler Crowe owns shares of ExxonMobil, National Oilwell Varco, and Nucor. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends National Oilwell Varco. The Motley Fool recommends Nucor. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Kinder Morgan Announces Open Season for Plantation Pipeline System

Roanoke Expansion Project Would Secure Capacity for Virginia

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 9:05 am EDT

HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE: KMI) today announced the start of a binding open season to solicit commitments for the Roanoke Expansion project on the Plantation Pipe Line System.

Southeast Region Plantation Pipeline Company
Plantation Pipeline Expansion Map / Source: Kinder Morgan

The Roanoke Expansion will provide for approximately 21,000 barrels per day (bpd) of incremental refined petroleum products capacity on the Plantation Pipe Line System from the Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Collins, Mississippi origin points to the Roanoke, Virginia area. The expansion will primarily consist of additional pump capacity and operational storage on the Plantation system. With enhancements made to the existing system, the Roanoke Expansion project offers a safe and secure energy supply solution for the area. Pending a successful open season and the receipt of regulatory approvals, the project will be in service by April 1, 2020.

Additional documents and details related to the open season will be made available upon completion of a confidentiality agreement. The binding open season begins Oct. 2, 2018, at 8 a.m. Central Time and ends Nov. 16, 2018, at 5 p.m. Central Time, though Kinder Morgan reserves the right to extend the open season as needed. Those interested in obtaining more detailed information about this open season can visit the Kinder Morgan web site at or contact Jeff Kabin, director of business development in Kinder Morgan’s Products Pipelines group, at or (713) 369-8567.

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About Kinder Morgan, Inc.Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE: KMI) is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America. We own an interest in or operate approximately 84,000 miles of pipelines and 152 terminals. Our pipelines transport natural gas, refined petroleum products, crude oil, condensate, CO2 and other products, and our terminals transload and store liquid commodities including petroleum products, ethanol and chemicals, and bulk products, including petroleum coke, metals and ores. For more information please visit

Important Information Relating to Kinder Morgan’s Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Generally the words “expects,” “believes,” anticipates,” “plans,” “will,” “shall,” “estimates,” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, which are generally not historical in nature. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties and are based on the beliefs and assumptions of management, based on information currently available to them. Although Kinder Morgan believes that these forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that any such forward-looking statements will materialize. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied from these forward-looking statements include the risks and uncertainties described in Kinder Morgan’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year-ended December 31, 2017 (under the headings “Risk Factors” and “Information Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and elsewhere) and its subsequent reports, which are available through the SEC’s EDGAR system at www.sec.govand on our website at Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they were made, and except to the extent required by law, KMI undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement because of new information, future events or other factors. Because of these risks and uncertainties, readers should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.


Kinder Morgan, Inc.
Media Relations
Katherine Hill, (713) 420-6397
Investor Relations
(713) 369-9490
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