|ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS PARTNERS L P filed this Form 10-K on 02/28/2018|
We are exposed to natural gas and NGL commodity price risks under certain of our natural gas processing and gathering and NGL fractionation contracts that provide for fees to be calculated based on a regional natural gas or NGL price index or to be paid in-kind by taking title to natural gas or NGLs. A decrease in natural gas and NGL prices can result in lower margins from these contracts, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows. Volatility in the prices of natural gas and NGLs can lead to ethane rejection, which results in lower pipeline and fractionation volumes for our assets. Volatility in these commodity prices may also have an impact on many of our customers, which in turn could have a negative impact on their ability to fulfill their obligations to us.
The crude oil, natural gas and NGLs currently transported, gathered or processed at our facilities originate primarily from existing domestic resource basins, which naturally deplete over time. To offset this natural decline, our facilities need access to production from newly discovered properties. Many economic and business factors beyond our control can adversely affect the decision by producers to explore for and develop new reserves. These factors could include relatively low oil and natural gas prices, cost and availability of equipment and labor, regulatory changes, capital budget limitations, the lack of available capital or the probability of success in finding hydrocarbons. A decrease in exploration and development activities in the regions where our facilities and other energy logistics assets are located could result in a decrease in volumes handled by our assets, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
For a discussion regarding our current commercial outlook for 2018, please read “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – General Outlook for 2018” included under Part II, Item 7 of this annual report.
We face competition from third parties in our midstream energy businesses.
Even if crude oil and natural gas reserves exist in the areas served by our assets, we may not be chosen by producers in these areas to gather, transport, process, fractionate, store or otherwise handle the hydrocarbons extracted. We compete with other companies, including producers of crude oil and natural gas, for any such production on the basis of many factors, including but not limited to geographic proximity to the production, costs of connection, available capacity, rates and access to markets.
Our NGL, refined products and marine transportation businesses may compete with other pipelines and marine transportation companies in the areas they serve. We also compete with railroads and third party trucking operations in certain of the areas we serve. Competitive pressures may adversely affect our tariff rates or volumes shipped. Also, substantial new construction of inland marine vessels could create an oversupply and intensify competition for our marine transportation business.
The crude oil gathering and marketing business can be characterized by thin operating margins and intense competition for supplies of crude oil at the wellhead. A decline in domestic crude oil production could intensify this competition among gatherers and marketers. Our crude oil transportation business competes with common carriers and proprietary pipelines owned and operated by major oil companies, large independent pipeline companies, financial institutions with commodity trading platforms and other companies in the areas where such pipeline systems deliver crude oil.
In our natural gas gathering business, we encounter competition in obtaining contracts to gather natural gas supplies, particularly new supplies. Competition in natural gas gathering is based in large part on reputation, efficiency, system reliability, gathering system capacity and pricing arrangements. Our key competitors in the natural gas gathering business include independent gas gatherers and major integrated energy companies. Alternate gathering facilities are available to producers we serve, and those producers may also elect to construct proprietary gas gathering systems.