The Permian Basin is a vast and resource rich area that accounts for a significant portion of U.S. oil and gas output. With the region’s production set to double by 2025, oil and gas companies are scrambling to build supporting infrastructure throughout Texas, particularly long-haul pipelines. The Whistler Pipeline is a Permian Basin pipeline project that was announced in 2019 and is expected to be in service towards the end of 2021.
The Whistler Pipeline project creates the possibility that landowners with property located within the proposed path of the pipeline will soon face Texas condemnation proceedings. The following is what you need to know about the Whistler Pipeline project and what you can do to protect your rights should you face a condemnation action. For additional information contact our Houston-based eminent domain law firm.
What is the Whistler Pipeline?
The Whistler Pipeline is an approximately 500-mile intrastate natural gas pipeline that will connect the Permian Basin to Aqua Dulce hub near Corpus Christi, Texas. The Whistler Pipeline consists of a 450-mile, 42-inch pipeline that runs between the Waha hub and Aqua Dulce and a 50-mile, 36-inch lateral pipeline that will connect Waha to Midland Basin gas processors. The Whistler Pipeline will cross 17 Texas counties.
The Whistler Pipeline project is a joint venture between Austin pipeline operator WhiteWater Midstream, Ohio-based MPLX LP, West Texas Gas, and New York private equity firm Stonepeak Partners that was announced in June of 2019. Whistler is underpinned by a series of long-term contractual minimum volume agreements from Permian Basin producers. This will give them much needed access to the South Texas and Mexican gas markets.
Global Infrastructure Partners Inc., a global independent infrastructure investor, purchased $325 million of an aggregate $400 million senior secured bullet notes in the project. The proceeds from the bullet notes together with additional financing and equity contributions will fund construction of the pipeline. The Whistler Pipeline is expected to be in service by the 3rd quarter of 2021.
The Whistler Pipeline project will create an intrastate natural gas pipeline extending from Pecos County to Nueces County, Texas. The pipeline will move 2.0 billion cubic feet per day through a 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline from the Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast.
On November 15, 2019, the Whistler Pipeline Consortium announced the beginning of open season to solicit commitments for the remaining capacity on the pipeline. Open season ended on December 16, 2019. The pipeline is expected to be in service during the third quarter of 2021.
Who is Behind the Whistler Pipeline Project?
Whistler Pipeline LLC is behind the Permian Basin pipeline project. The entity consists of a consortium that includes MPLX LP, WhiteWater Midstream, and a joint venture between Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners (Stonepeak) and West Texas Gas, Inc.
MPLX is a publicly traded company that owns and operates energy infrastructure and assets, as well as provides fuel distribution services. The company owns crude oil and natural gas gathering systems and pipelines.
WhiteWater is based in Austin and provides transportation services for domestic oil and gas.
Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners
Stonepeak is a private equity fund headquartered in New York that also maintains offices in Houston and Austin.
West Texas Gas Inc.
WTG is headquartered in Midland, Texas and provides natural gas to more than 90 counties in both Texas and Oklahoma.
Planned Pipeline Route
The 450-mile segment of the pipeline will extend from the Waha Gas Hub near Cayanosa in Pecos County, Texas, and terminate near Agua Dulce in Nueces County, Texas. The 50-mile lateral pipeline extends from near Garden City in Glasscock County, Texas to the Rankin Compressor Station in Upton County, Texas.
The Whistler Pipeline project also includes several ancillary facilities and sites, including 44 launcher/receiver sites, 22 meter stations, 27 mainline valve sites, and 9 temporary contractor yards.
How Many Miles is the Whistler Pipeline Project?
The Whistler Pipeline is approximately 500 miles long. About 450 miles of the pipeline consists of a 42-inch pipe that will transport natural gas from the Waha Header in the Permian Basin to a terminus near Agua Dulce, Texas. The second significant portion of the pipeline consists of 50 miles of 36-inch lateral pipe that will serve to provide connectivity for producers located in the Midland Basin.
Since the Whistler Pipeline extends across the Permian Basin over a distance of some 500 linear miles, it will impact landowners in a lot of counties within the state of Texas. Landowners in these 17 counties could face potential Texas condemnation proceedings:
- La Salle
- Jim Wells
- Val Verde
The Whistler Pipeline project was announced in June of 2019. The parties initially anticipated that the Whistler Pipeline would be in service by the end of 2020. Construction did not begin until 2020 because the Whistler Pipeline project had failed to secure enough shippers for the pipeline’s capacity.
Whistler Pipeline has since contracted for the supply of the entirety of its pipeline. Proceeds from $400 million in senior secured bullet notes and additional financing, as well as common equity from the Whistler Pipeline project partners has allowed the construction to move forward. The pipeline is scheduled to be in service sometime during the third quarter of 2021.
Why is this Pipeline Needed?
The Permian Basin is one of the most significant oil and gas producing regions in the United States. Output in the Permian Basin began in 1921. New techniques that allow oil companies to extract oil and gas trapped within layers of hydrocarbon-bearing rock formations have significantly increased production and output. The Permian Basin currently accounts for approximately 25% of U.S. oil production.
The Permian Basin is some 250 miles wide by 300 miles long. Most of the resource rich rock formations are located in two sub-basins: The Midland Basin and the Delaware Basin. There is a significant need to integrate these resources with Gulf Coast demand through a Permian Basin pipeline. There is also a need for a series of pipelines to satisfy demand in territories from Louisiana to Mexico. Where the Whistler Pipeline ends in Agua Dulce, it will have access to a network of pipelines such as the NET Mexico Pipeline and Enbridge’s Valley Crossing Pipeline.
You Have Rights as a Landowner
Landowners in Texas have important rights under the Texas Landowner Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution, and Texas Constitution. The government or a private company cannot seize property without paying a landowner just and adequate compensation. Unfortunately, powerful oil companies and governmental entities often seek to take advantage of unrepresented landowners, paying them a fraction of what their land is worth.
Have Right-of-Way Agents Contacted You?
If you have been contacted by an agent in connection with the Whistler Pipeline project, it is important that you consult with an experienced Texas eminent domain lawyer to protect your rights. Avoid making any statements or signing any documents that are provided to you. Entities seeking to condemn your land must follow important procedures. In other words, you have time, use it to learn your rights and options.
Will You Be Impacted by the Whistler Pipeline Project?
If you own land within the proposed path of the Whistler Pipeline, it is possible that your land may be condemned. If you receive a visit from an agent for the oil company or a notice in the mail, do not panic. Politely decline to discuss the matter any further. Let the agent know that you would like a chance to discuss the matter with your lawyer. Contact a Houston-based eminent domain lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Padua Law Firm is centrally located in Houston, Texas and has a proven track record of representing landowners in Texas condemnation actions for oil pipeline projects. Please feel free to contact us at any time to discuss your options or if you have any questions or concerns about the Whistler Pipeline project.