Permian Crudes Weaken After Crude Spill Shuts Sunoco Pipeline

Crude extracted from the largest U.S. oil field weakened against the U.S. benchmark after producers lost access to Midwest markets when a 4,000-barrel spill in Louisiana forced the shutdown of a key pipeline.

West Texas Intermediate in Midland, Texas, weakened by 75 cents a barrel to a discount of $7 relative to the same grade in Cushing, Oklahoma, at 11:47 a.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s the largest discount since Oct. 1. Midland is the pricing point for the Permian Basin, which produces about 1.76 million barrels of oil a day.

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP shut a segment of its Mid-Valley Pipeline between Longview, Texas, and Mayersville, Mississippi, after it spilled as much as 4,000 barrels of crude last night, Travis Lawson, a spokesman for the Philadelphia-based company, said by phone. The Mid-Valley line delivers Permian crude from Longview to six states, including Ohio and Michigan.

“There’s no question that that’s going to contribute to weakness in West Texas crudes,” Andrew Lebow, senior vice president at Jefferies Bache LLC in New York, said by phone.

West Texas Sour, a medium-density, high-sulfur crude also priced in Midland, weakened by 65 cents a barrel to a discount of $5.75 to WTI in Cushing.

The Mid-Valley line carried about 228,000 barrels of crude a day through Louisiana in July, the most recent month for which data is available, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Longview, in northeast Texas, is connected to the Permian by the Sunoco’s West Texas Gulf pipeline system.

After shutting the Longview-Mayersville segment following yesterday’s spill, Sunoco closed the entire Mid-Valley line this morning for 48 hours of planned maintenance because of a refinery turnaround, Lawson said.

This is the second time this year Sunoco has had to shut a section of the Mid-Valley because of a spill. The 20-inch pipe leaked 240 barrels of crude near Colerain Township, Ohio, in March.

Husky Energy Inc. is monitoring the pipeline situation, and so far operations at its refinery in Lima, Ohio, are not affected, spokesman Mel Duvall said by e-mail.

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