(Corrects barrels per day to barrels per hour in seventh paragraph)
HOUSTON Jan 31 (Reuters) - Enterprise Products Partners LP’s repurposed natural gas liquids pipeline in the Permian Basin will begin limited operations in February to carry crude oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast, ahead of its original plan, the company said on Thursday.
The Houston pipeline operator has begun the process of converting its Seminole NGL pipeline to begin carrying more than 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) from West Texas next month for a single customer with a long-term 10-year contract, CEO James Teague said in a conference call.
“We have a lot of levers to pull and we pulled the levers that made this happen,” Teague said.
The pipeline was originally expected to begin moving crude in the second quarter of 2019. It will begin full service in April.
The accelerated schedule helped push Midland crude prices higher over the past few weeks, traders said.
West Texas Intermediate at Midland strengthened earlier this month to a premium to U.S. crude futures for the first time in a year, trading at a 35-cent per barrel premium on Thursday, traders said.
The company also has a team currently in Washington, D.C., submitting an application to U.S. regulators for permits to build a deep-water oil export terminal that would load 85,000 barrels per hour onto supertankers off the coast of Houston, Teague said.
The U.S. government shutdown had delayed Enterprise’s project because the company could not submit its permit applications to the U.S. Maritime Administration.
Once the application is filed, U.S. regulators will be required to complete a review over one year, even if the U.S. government shuts down again, Teague said.
Enterprise shares rose 46 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $28.12 in early trade on Thursday after the company reported net income of $1.28 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $774 million in the same period last year. (Reporting by Collin Eaton Editing by David Gregorio and Phil Berlowitz)