Energy Transfer bids for Sunoco
Put that in your pipe
A pipeline deal to exploit America's fast-changing energy landscape
NODDING donkeys, offshore platforms, refineries and filling stations are the bits of the oil industry you can see. A vast and largely invisible network of underground pipes joins them all together. It is worth a lot, which is why Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) said it would pay $5.3 billion for Sunoco on April 30th. It hopes to pull together two networks and shift more of America's booming oil and gas output.
抽油机，海上钻井平台，炼油厂还有加油站，你看见的这些只是石油工业的冰山一角。把它们连在一起的是一个庞大且几乎隐形的地下管网。它价值不菲，正因如此 ETP 公司于4月30日表示，愿意出价53亿美元收购 Sunoco 公司。美国国内的石油和天然气产量正快速增长，ETP 希望通过合并两家公司的管网，以输送更多油气产品。
ETP is ambitious. Last year its parent company, Energy Transfer Equity, agreed to buy Southern Union and its gas-pipeline network for $5.7 billion.The latest deal will make ETP the country's second-biggest pipeline firm, behind Kinder Morgan, after the latter's merger with El Paso is concluded later this year.
ETP 公司踌躇满志。去年其母公司 ETE 同意出价57亿美元，收购 Southern Union 公司及其天然气管网。最新的收购将使ETP成为全美第二大油气管道公司。Kinder Morgan 公司并购 El Paso 之后排名第一，其交易今年晚些时候完成。
Sunoco comes with storage facilities, 4,900 filling stations and the remains of a refining business that it is trying to spin off in a joint venture with Carlyle, a private-equity firm. But the pipelines are the main attraction. ETP currently operates 17,500 miles (28,160km) of the arteries that transport gas and natural-gas liquids such as propane and butane. Adding Sunoco's 6,000 miles, built to carry crude oil and refined products, will reduce ETP's reliance on gas. After the deal, 30% of its revenues will come from oil.
收购带来了 Sunoco 公司的储油设施、4900个加油站以及一家炼油厂的剩余资产。Sunoco 打算把这些剩余资产剥离出来投入一家合资公司，该合资公司由ETP和私募股权公司Carlyle共同投资。但最诱人的部分是油气管道。ETP目前运营的油气管道干线达17500英里（约28160公里）。这些干线用于输送天然气以及丙烷、丁烷等液化天然气。加上 Sunoco 运输原油和精炼产品的6000英里管道，ETP对天然气输送业务的依赖程度将降低。交易完成后，ETP 30％的收入将来自石油输送业务。
This is important. In a few years shale gas's share of America's total gas output has gone from almost nothing to around a fifth. It will account for much more in the years to come. This changes the logistics of energy delivery, says Ronald J. Barone of UBS, a bank. Shale gas is much more widely distributed than the conventional sort. It is also more scattered than the ports through which imported gas arrives.
这一点意义重大。近年来，在美国天然气总产量中，页岩气的比例几乎从零上升至五分之一。今后几年，这一比例将进一步提高。瑞士联合银行的 Ronald J. Barone 认为，能源运输的物流方式由此改变。与传统天然气相比，页岩气的分布更广泛。与进口天然气的港口位置相比，页岩气的分布也更普遍。
The more shale gas America uses, the more local the energy business becomes. Deliveries from gas basins in the south-west to the markets of the heavily populated Atlantic seaboard in the north-east are dwindling. The development of the Marcellus shale is displacing long-distance supplies with gas from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Transporting gas still brings big and stable revenues. But diversifying into oil makes sense too. America's oil pipelines are largely unfettered by the rigid regulations that govern gas-pipeline tariffs. So transporting gloopy oil is far more profitable than shifting lighter-than-air gas.
And the oil business is looking peachy. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate fetches around $100, even as gas prices recently hit a ten-year low. This has encouraged gas producers to scurry after oil in liquid-rich shale beds such as the Bakken in North Dakota. To do this, they use the same rigs and techniques, such as fracking and horizontal drilling, as they use for gas. Within a few years the Bakken and other shale beds could be producing up to 3m barrels of oil a day, reckon optimists. That is around a third of current imports.
Owning the pipes that make all this possible should be lucrative. America has long failed to invest in pipes, since investors assumed that the country would continue to rely on imports. So there is too little capacity in many places where it is now needed. And American buyers are clamouring for more oil from Canada, which will also need pipes. Targets like Sunoco are rare. ETP was wise to swoop on it.