Photographer: Brittany Sowacke/Bloomberg

Billionaire Kelcy Warren Sees ‘Mind-Boggling’ Growth in Texas

  • Energy Transfer Chairman also likes Marcellus, Utica, Bakken
  • LNG is ‘sexy’ but Warren prefers pipelines plugged into Mexico

Energy Transfer Equity LP Chairman Kelcy Warren called the continued boom in West Texas’s Permian Basin “mind-boggling” and said it creates opportunities for transporting more oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids to markets.

“There’s a lot of competition in the Permian, but we’re getting at least our share of the pie,” Warren, a 60-year-old billionaire, said in a phone interview Friday.

Warren is looking to the future after Energy Transfer walked away in June from a $32.9 billion takeover of Williams Cos. Long considered a visionary in the energy infrastructure space, Warren made deals during the shale boom to piece together a 71,000-mile (114,239-kilometer) oil-and-gas superhighway that spans the country.

Warren singled out the Northeast’s prolific Marcellus and Utica gas plays and North Dakota’s Bakken region as also being ripe for further development. Warren’s Energy Transfer Partners is in the process of spending some $13 billion of capital on new projects including an oil pipeline out of the Bakken and a gas line plugged into the Marcellus and Utica.

On the other hand, he said energy infrastructure is probably overbuilt in North Texas’s Barnett Shale as well as in the Haynesville shale centered in Louisiana. South Texas’s Eagle Ford region is “close to being overbuilt,” he said.

Exporting gas is another bright spot, Warren said. Energy Transfer’s developing the Lake Charles liquefied natural gas terminal on the Gulf of Mexico. And it’s expanding its network of pipelines that’ll connect to Mexico, where Warren expects gas demand to continue to grow.

He prefers the pipelines.

“Liquefied-natural gas is sexy. You get to speak with a lot of people that have a very global view of the market for natural gas,” he said. “Building pipelines to Mexico is not sexy. That’s blue collar. That’s who I am. I much prefer the pipeline export route.”

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