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Kinder Morgan pushes back Permian Highway gas pipe in-service date, blames permitting

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About 85% of Permian Highway right-of-way acquired

Proposed Permian Pass pipeline to probably be delayed beyond 2022

Houston — Kinder Morgan's 2 Bcf/d Permian Highway Pipeline, which had been scheduled to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2020, will not be brought online until early in 2021, CEO Steven Kean said late Wednesday during the company's third-quarter 2019 earnings call.

"We have about 85% of the [Permian Highway] right-of-way acquired and currently expect that we're going to timely acquire the easements we need," Kean said.

Kean blamed the later start-up date on delays in securing needed permits for the project, designed to carry natural gas from the Permian Basin in West Texas to the Texas Gulf Coast region.

"We are still obtaining some of the regulatory authorizations that we need, and that has progressed a little more slowly than what we put in our plan," he said. "That means in order to do efficient construction, we will kick off the construction a little bit later."

The company does not anticipate further delays in the permitting process, Kean said.

In addition, the company will likely put plans to build another 2 Bcf/d pipeline to carry gas from the prolific Permian Basin on hold. Kean said work on Kinder Morgan's proposed Permian Pass pipeline will probably be delayed beyond 2022. He described the proposed project as a "work in progress" and said it has not been added to the company's backlog of projects.

"Since we reported on this on the second-quarter call, the commercial activity has slowed, but it continues," Kean said. "It slowed as a result of some producer retrenchment in their Permian activities."

He added that the pipeline would still be needed in the long-term, "but it may not be needed quite as soon as we were expecting three months ago. With a total of three new 2 Bcf/d projects coming online over the 2019 to 2021 period -- both of ours as well as the third-party pipeline -- the Permian Pass pipeline may not be needed in 2022."


In its Q3 operational activity, the company said natural gas transportation volumes rose 13% compared with Q3 2018, with the largest increase on El Paso Natural Gas (EPNG), Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) and Kinder Morgan Louisiana Pipeline, followed by Colorado Interstate Gas Co. (CIG), Gulf Coast Express Pipeline (GCX) and Wyoming Interstate Co. (WIC).

The increase marked the seventh quarter in a row in which volumes exceeded those of the comparable prior-year period by 10% or more, Kinder Morgan said in its Q3 earnings statement. Transportation volumes on EPNG benefited from Permian-related activity and increased throughput for California storage refill, while TGP's hike was due to projects being placed in service, the company said.

KMLP's gas transportation volumes increase occurred after the Sabine Pass Expansion entered service, while volumes on CIG rose due to increased production in the Denver-Julesburg Basin and increased coal-to-gas fuel switching for power generation, it said.

The company reported that its GCX pipeline entered service on September 25, ahead of schedule, while WIC saw higher flows from the DJ and Powder River basins.

Kinder Morgan said its Q3 gas gathering volumes rose 12% year on year due primarily to higher volumes on the KinderHawk, South Texas and Eagle Ford Midstream systems. NGL transport volumes climbed 10% year on year, due to higher Cochin volumes, the company reported.


Kean said a delay in the start of operations at the company's Elba Island LNG project was "a drag" on its third-quarter 2019 performance and contributed to a cut in its 2019 earnings forecast.

Hold-ups in the start of operations at the liquefaction plant in Georgia and other factors such as lower commodity prices will dent the company's 2019 adjusted EBITDA by about 3% compared with a budgeted $7.8 billion, the Houston-based midstream giant said.

Kean sought to reassure investors that the delays are behind the project and production at Elba Island will increase as new units are added in the coming months. The first of 10 units at the facility entered service in September.


The sale of Kinder Morgan's publicly traded Canadian company, Kinder Morgan Canada, to Pembina Pipeline is progressing, and the company continues to anticipate it will close by late 2019 or early 2020.

Dax Sanders, the executive responsible for the Canadian business, said shareholders will vote on the proposal at a meeting December 10 and some approvals by Canadian regulators remain outstanding. Kinder Morgan holds the majority of Kinder Morgan Canada shares.

Kinder Morgan reported third-quarter adjusted EBITDA of $1.83 billion, compared with $1.86 billion in the year-ago period. The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus adjusted EBITDA estimate was $1.86 billion.

-- Gene Laverty, S&P Global Market Intelligence,

-- Jim Magill,

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,