Enterprise Products Partners LP has secured long-term agreements to expand a major oil pipeline system from West Texas to the coast that would have initial capacity of 450,000 bd and could be up and running in early 2021.

The agreements support expanding the Midland-to-ECHO system, according to Enterprise affiliate M2E4 LLCd. The pipeline, expandable to 540,000 b/d, would move supply from the partnership’s 6 million bbl storage facility in Midland through the Eagle Ford Shale system in South Texas to its 3 million bbl ECHO Terminal east of Houston.

The expansion is necessary to ensure more oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) takeaway from the largest oil basin in the country, Enterprise general partner CEO A.J. “Jim” Teague said. Driven by burgeoning Permian production, the partnership’s NGL, oil, refined products and petrochemical volumes in 2Q2019 overall smashed previous records at 6.6 million b/d from 6.2 million b/d in the year-ago period.

Oil and NGL production from the Permian and Eagle Ford “is expected to increase by five million b/d by 2025,” Teague said. This project gives us the flexibility to respond to changing customer demand for crude oil and NGL pipeline capacity over the long-term…In the aggregate, our total crude oil pipeline capacity from the Permian to ECHO will be able to swing from a low of 1.4 million b/d to 1.8 million b/d, depending on market demand.”

The proposed route, Teague said, “would avoid the Edwards Aquifer, including its recharge and contribution zones.” The aquifer is the source of drinking water for two million people, and is the primary water supply for agriculture and industry in the aquifer’s region.

The expansion also would enable the partnership to maximize the operational flexibility of the Seminole Red pipeline as either oil or NGL service, based on market needs. Earlier this year, Enterprise converted Seminole from mixed NGL service to crude, but it expects to convert the pipe back to liquids during 2021, depending on customer requests.