OREANDA-NEWS. January 20, 2017. Exports of US light crude will continue to grow even as imports keep steady at about 7mn b/d, said Enterprise Products Partners chief executive Jim Teague.

The US will become the first and most reliable crude supplier to replace oil from "politically risky" nations, he said, at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston. The US will continue to import heavy crude from Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Venezuela and Canada regardless of how much is eventually exported.

Enterprise has rapidly built up export capacity in the past few years with 20 ship docks, of which 15 are capable of exporting a combined 4mn b/d of crude. Enterprise has exported crude and LPG around the globe, including to Europe, Latin America, and Asia, but Teague would not comment on current nominated volumes. He said capacity is not maxed out.

Teague said the company's docks "are a magnet" for US crude, as evidenced by increasing efforts to move Permian basin oil to the Gulf coast. For example, Plains All American Pipeline said yesterday that it plans to expand capacity on its 250,000 b/d Cactus crude pipeline from the Permian basin to Gardendale, Texas, to about 390,000 b/d by the end of the third quarter.

Cactus connects to Plain's 660,000 b/d Eagle Ford JV pipeline, a 50:50 joint venture with Enterprise that serves Three Rivers and Corpus Christi, Texas, and can access the Houston area on Enterprise's South Texas pipeline system.

Another Enterprise project -- the 300,000 b/d Midland-to-Houston pipeline -- will be in service in the first quarter of 2018, Teague said. That line would move crude from Enterprise's Midland terminal to its Sealy storage facility west of Houston, providing another outlet for Permian production to multiple markets, including for export.

The rising interest in exports since the US lifted a 40-year-old ban on most exports in December 2015 will likely lead to a crude spot market developing on the Gulf coast within months, not years, Enterprise officials said today.