After attending the DUG Midcontinent conference and reviewing EnLInk Midstream Partners’ third-quarter earnings, we have added the midstream operator to the MLP Portfolio’s aggressive sleeve as a buy up to $16 per unit.
The partnership generated enough cash flow to cover its third-quarter distribution by 1.06 times and continues to lay a foundation for future growth through ongoing investment in Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin as well as the Permian Basin in West Texas.
These basins offer superior economics and continue to attract drilling activity, while EnLInk Midstream Partners’ close relationship with its sponsor Devon Energy Corp (NYSE: DVN) provides leveraged exposure to the upstream operator’s accelerating drilling and completion activity in these plays.
Devon Energy increased the number of rigs working in the so-called STACK play to five from two in the third quarter and plans to add a sixth unit by the end of the year. Including rigs run by other producers, management expects 12 units to be drilling actively in EnLInk Midstream Partners’ service territory by the end of the year.
Since acquiring and integrating privately held Tall Oak Midstream earlier this year, EnLInk Midstream Partners has grown the throughput volumes on its gas-processing plants in central Oklahoma by about 85 percent. The start-up of the Chisholm II plant will give the MLP 800 million cubic feet per day of processing capacity in the region, up from 350 million cubic feet per day in 2015.
Management has started to consider adding another 200 million cubic feet per day of processing capacity and noted that another plant could be needed in two to three years if development of the STACK accelerates.
And EnLink Midstream Partners’ exposure to growing production of natural gas liquids (NGL) bodes well for the MLP’s Cajun-Sibon system in Louisiana, which fractionates the mixed NGL stream into discrete components and provides connections to key end-markets on the Gulf Coast.
This tailwind should help the Cajun-Sibon system to operate at full capacity in the second quarter of 2017 and create additional growth opportunities.
These growth stories should offset ongoing weakness in EnLink Midstream Partners’ legacy gathering and processing assets in the Barnett Shale, a mature play in the Fort Worth area that has fallen out of favor.
Management estimates the decline rate in this area at 10 to 12 percent per annum, though the MLP has helped to mitigate this challenge through cost controls, adjusting the pressure on gathering lines and securing business from new customers.
These efforts limited the year-over-year decline in throughput volumes to between 5 and 7 percent. Devon Energy’s minimum volume commitments in the Barnett Shale also expire in a few years.
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Elliott and Roger on Aug. 27, 2019
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