Marathon Petroleum Earnings Call Insights: Galveston Crude Cost and First Drop Sizing

Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Galveston Crude Cost

Edward Westlake – Credit Suisse: Congratulations on having DHOUP and Galveston for the first quarter. Just on Galveston could you give us an idea of the crude cost in the quarter, perhaps relative to LLS I understand I think you are still running the old slate and you just wondering in terms of progress of switching out imports for domestic crudes and general comments there.

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C. Michael Palmer – SVP, Supply, Distribution and Planning: Ed, I’m not sure that we can give you the number, the difference between the crude slate and WTI or LLS. But I can tell you that if you look at the first quarter, we closed on this transaction in February, and of course the February supply was arranged by the previous owner during the month of January. So we’ve really been involved (formally) in the crude slates just during March in that quarter. When you look at this plant overall and if you looked in the appendix at the MPC crude slate. You can see that, at this plant we don’t run at least in the first quarter quite as much WTI based crude as we did in the 6 plant system. And of course that will be dictated by the marketplace over time. The other thing is that’s important in this plant is that we do continue to see value in some foreign a sweet cargo crudes, which is related to the aromatics business at the plant. So we’re working to optimize the crude slate every day and the market will dictate the crudes that we purchase.

Edward Westlake – Credit Suisse: But in terms of being able to capture a discount in crude is there any sort of sense of how many thousand barrels a day, you could process at Galveston to take advantage of domestic discounts…

C. Michael Palmer – SVP, Supply, Distribution and Planning: You know Ed what I would say is that if you if you look at the, where this plant is located and its access to domestically produced crudes. What we’re starting to see is the pipelines are getting built into the Houston area. I’m sure you’re aware that the Longhorn pipeline has just recently begun, Permian Express will begin shortly. We’re going to continue to have a build out of pipelines that are going to feed this refinery. So as domestic crude continues to grow, we expect that we’re going to see that crude being run by this plant. We think it’s very well positioned for that going forward.

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First Drop Sizing

Evan Calio – Morgan Stanley: My first question – congrats on the first drop-down to MPLX, yet I just try to understand the sizing in the overall drop-down strategy. You sold 5% in Pipe Line Holdings for $100 million, but you are still in net cash position in MPLX debt-free is $500 million of credit. I know you had assets in the quarter with the Texas City acquisition. So, can you just kind of talk me through the strategy on the sizing of the first drop and I have a different question please?

Garry L. Peiffer – EVP, Corporate Planning and Investor & Government Relations: Sure, this is Garry Peiffer. I think we’ve been consistent both when we did the roadshow before the IPO and since the IPO that we’re looking at this MPLX as a long-term very transparent consistent growth type of vehicle here and we plan to grow this business both through tariff increases, organic projects that add value and acquisitions. And when we look at the fact that our goal and is our strategy to have annual distribution growth in the top quartile of the high-growth drop-down peers, this is the amount of distribution – or excuse me, drop that we felt we needed to, at least from a first drop standpoint, put into the new entity only six months after we went through an IPO as well. So, I think dependent upon everybody’s outlook, I think a lot of people might have expected us to do the drop a little bit later than six months, but we felt the timing was good to get the first drop done at this point, which gives us more earnings power from that drop earlier on in the life of MPLX. So, it’s really our goal to achieve this top quartile annual distribution growth that – not dictated, drove us to this type of drop…

Evan Calio – Morgan Stanley: You certainly have the assets at the parent level. Let me ask you different question yet related. I believe you guys are investing in condensate splitters associated around your Ohio asset in Canton and Catlettsburg to process and provide advantaged condensate as it grows from Utica. Can you provide any details on kind of cost and potential volumes and when you potentially could see those units on-stream and also whether you think there’s a suitable potentially for MLP? I’ll leave at that.

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Garry L. Peiffer – EVP, Corporate Planning and Investor & Government Relations: The last part of your question, yes, they are suitable, they qualify for an MLP, so that’s an easy part of the answer. But I think what our goal here is today we’ve said that at our Canton and Catlettsburg refinery, we believe without any additional investment we can run roughly 20,000 to 30,000 barrels a day in total of condensate at those two facilities. As the amount of condensate grows there, we want to be in a position to make sure that we can handle more than that amount of volume, which we expect to come on line may be in a year or two, but we are not in the exploration business, we’re just in the refining business so we are positioning ourselves with these condensate splitters which we announced that, when completed, we could go from about 20,000 to 30,000 barrels a day to about 60,000 barrels a day of total condensate throughput. We’ve kind of pegged end of 2015, 2016 type of timeframe for these new units to come on line. That’s going to really be driven by how quickly the condensate production ramps up there. So, we’re doing the engineering, but we haven’t finalized exactly when we’re going to come on line with those units, but again, we’ll be in position that once we exceed that 30,000 barrels a day or so, that we will be in a position to have the condensate splitters there to be able to process the higher volumes.

Evan Calio – Morgan Stanley: Great. Any estimate on cost as well, and related to that?

Gary R. Heminger – President and CEO: I think we’ve said previously that when you look at all of the investments we’re making in Utica. We are investing in some barges as you know we announced that we signed a letter of intent to convert our Wellsville terminal into a barge loading facility for crude and condensate. So the whole complement of investments in that area is about $300 million over the next few years we’re looking at. So we haven’t split that out in particular assets, but roughly $300 million over the next 2 to 3 years.