A slide from a recent Tesoro's (NYSE:ANDV) investor presentation really caught my attention. The slide notes the simply incredible growth of oil production from America's shale plays over the past few years as well as hinting at what's to come. Take a look:
Oil production from shale has gone from a basically flat start in 2008 to an average of more than 2.5 million barrels per day last year. But as that slide also points out, Tesoro and others estimate that by the end of the decade America's shale plays should be producing more than 4 million barrels of oil per day. This suggests that there is plenty of oil fueled growth left in America's tank.
Taking advantage of this advantage
With so much oil production coming online through the end of the decade, refiners like Tesoro, Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX), and Valero (NYSE:VLO) are all spending millions of dollars to take advantage of this cheaper crude oil. In Tesoro's case its refineries near the Bakken and Uinta/Niobrara are already taking full advantage of this cheaper crude oil as all of the oil processed at these facilities are price advantaged crudes. But not all of the company's refineries are on an all American oil diet, which is why Tesoro is exploring the potential of refining more Bakken crude oil at its West Coast refineries.
Meanwhile, Valero is investing to process more light crude oil as well. Currently, the company estimates that it can process 1.2 million barrels per day, which is 56% of its total capacity as the below slide notes.
But as that slide points out, Valero is investing to push that up to 1.39 million barrels per day by early 2016. Currently, Valero is spending about $400 million to add 90,000 barrels of light crude oil capacity at its Houston refinery and another $350 million to add 70,000 barrels of capacity at its Corpus Christi refinery. The company estimates that it will see a 25% internal rate of return on these investments thanks to the savings from switching from Brent based crude oil to American crude.
Even Phillips 66, which is focusing most of its investments by taking advantage of natural gas in its midstream and chemicals subsidiaries, is investing to take advantage of cheaper crude oil. Most of the company's investments have been on simply gaining access to this cheaper crude oil via rail cars or by boat. As the following slide notes Phillips 66 has been enhancing its logistics options through adding ships and rail cars to its fleet to bring cheap oil to its refineries.
America's oil boom is producing incredible production growth from shale. That's why we're seeing refiners like Phillips 66, Valero, and Tesoro all investing both to gain greater access to this cheaper crude oil at refineries as well as increasing the capacity to refine this lighter oil. Needless to say, with so much oil production growth still left in the tank, refiners will have plenty of opportunities to increase profits in the years to come.