The Terminal that Stores Oil at Cushing Continues to Grow, as Does the Numbers of Pipelines it Uses
09.04.2019 - NEWS

September 04, 2019 [The Oklahoman] – Analysts that closely track oil inventories at the Cushing terminal predict midstream companies by the end of next year will have the ability to move more oil out of the terminal than can be brought in.

Still, much of the information provided by a Genscape webinar last week illustrates that the terminal, a collection of companies that store and ship crude and condensates, continues to play an important role in storing and distributing oil and other liquids to downstream users.

The briefing was conducted by Genscape’s Hillary Stevenson, director of oil markets and business development, and Ryan Saxton, its director of midstream oil.

Together, they discussed the terminal’s recent rapid growth in storage capacity and connectivity to both upstream fields and downstream export facilities, refineries and other end-stream users of what it stores.

Stevenson and Saxton used data Genscape collects to outline the terminal’s current operations. The company monitors 100% of the Cushing terminal’s inventory by overflying the facility twice weekly and documenting tank levels using both traditional and infrared cameras.

It monitors pumping station power consumption rates on 94% of the lines connected to the terminal using a patented remote sensing device.

It also uses fixed visual cameras to monitor railcar deliveries of oil to a Cushing operator’s rail crude delivery terminal in Stroud, and uses fixed infrared cameras to monitor the operations of connected downstream refineries.

During the past 10 years, they said, Cushing’s operational capacity has nearly doubled, from about 55 million barrels in 2009 to about 99 million barrels, which is how much combined operators would be capable of storing once construction ends on a group of tanks now under construction.

The terminal’s connectivity to both upstream suppliers and downstream users also has greatly expanded.

In 2012, the terminal only had one pipeline coming to it that was capable of moving more than 500,000 barrels a day. None of that size was leaving the facility. Daily flows in averaged about 1.75 million barrels daily, while daily flows out averaged about 1 million barrels daily.

In May, the terminal had three pipelines with capacities of at least 500,000 barrels of oil daily bringing product in, with two others that size capable of moving oil to the Gulf Coast. Daily flows to the terminal averaged about 3 million barrels a day, while daily flows out averaged about 2 million barrels a day.

Connected pipelines have a combined capacity of 7 million barrels per day. “Today’s map looks like a web,” Stevenson remarked. As for pipelines, Saxton said work is underway on eight different lines that will connect to Cushing.

Only one, however, the Phillips 66/Bridger line with a capacity of 350,000 barrels per day from the Bakken and Niobrara shale plays, will carry oil to Cushing. The remaining lines, ranging in capacity from 85,000 to 800,000 barrels of oil per day, are expected to carry oil from Cushing to the Gulf Coast.


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