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Top Business Stories: Convention Center Update, Pipeline Earnings, Hamm Doubles Down On $60 Oil

May 6, 2016

During Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting, Ward 5’s David Greenwell said it’s hard to get excited about things like the proposed MAPS 3 convention center until you see some of the architectural renderings.

Those were presented this week, and one of the issues with this new convention center seems to be parking.

Ward 2 councilman Ed Shadid, who’s pretty vocal about his concerns when it comes to using public money for large-scale projects, raised the point during the architects’ presentation.

"You guys have repeated 10-15 times that this has come in on budget, but to me, if you don't have any parking whatsoever for a convention center, you're not in budget,” Shadid said. “I mean, you have $250 million and not any money budgeted for parking. That, to me, seems problematic."

The convention center will be bigger than the nearby Chesapeake Energy Arena, which also doesn’t have surface parking.

“The architect from Populous who was presenting said that there could be 750 spaces in surface lots to the south and east of the building. They're still studying that,” said The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks. “Personally, I'm not sure anyone would love the idea of big concrete pads next to this great new building and across from our planned new park, but that's something they're considering.”

Watch Tuesday's Oklahoma City Council meeting. The MAPS 3 Convention Center discussion begins at about 36:35.

Populous architect Adam Paulitsch said they’re still studying the issue. The parking issue could also be alleviated due to the hotel that’s part of the project, and the downtown streetcar stop that will be 800 feet from the new convention center’s front door, The Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:

In April, the MAPS 3 subcommittee requested more studies on meeting room locations and sun protections on the west side of the building. Subcommittee member Larry Nichols, executive chairman of Devon Energy, expressed concern about the traffic flow around the building.

Paulitsch said Populous has conducted case studies to provide some guidance on the Oklahoma City project and help shape it into a showcase of modern convention center design. Those sites include the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, noted for its unique design elements; the Vancouver Convention Center in Canada for its scale; and the Anaheim Convention Center in California for its adaptability.

“We see the industry going more toward a hospitality-focused design,” Paulitsch said.

An oil storage tank facility in Oklahoma CIty owned by Magellan Midstream Partners.
Credit Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Positive Pipeline Position

The worldwide downturn in commodity prices hasn’t hit midstream companies – those that focus on oil transport and storage – nearly as hard other energy sectors.

“Magellan Midstream posted an increase in net income in the first quarter, though their revenue was down,” Brooks said. “And Enable also saw income drop, but its earnings were up four percent.”

The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports Tulsa-based Magellan is even considering expansion:

Oklahoma State University finance professor Dave Carter said the company is more insulated from low commodity prices than other midstream companies, in part because Magellan pumps refined petroleum products through its pipelines.

“The bulk of their revenue comes from transporting products, so the price doesn’t directly affect them,” Carter said. “They could be indirectly affected due to less supply.”

Magellan reported $3.8 billion in outstanding debt at March 31 and $210 million cash on hand.

The pipeline operator expects to spend $800 million in 2016 for expansion projects, including a refined pipeline addition and a larger crude storage terminal at its east Houston facility.

Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm, chairman of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc., delivers his speech, "Rock Steady in the Bakken", Thursday, May 22, 2014 during the 22nd Williston Basin Petroleum Conference held in Bismarck, N.D.
Credit Kevin Cederstrom / Associated Press

Continental CEO’s Crystal Ball

Earlier this year, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm predicted oil prices would rise to $60 by the end of 2016. He stood by that prediction in an April 30 editorial in The Journal Record:

This was not a widely held view when we first shared it back in January. Today, numerous analysts have arrived at the very same conclusion.

The oil market has passed an inflection point, and prices are up 50 percent from previous lows. With demand growth and supply contraction, analysts at Raymond James; Tudor, Pickering, Holt; Guggenheim; and more agree oil will be at $60 or higher by year-end.

As oil demand increases 1.3 million barrels per day, the oversupply will be gone within the year. China and India are driving demand up further – through both consumption and strategic stockpile building. Meanwhile, in addition to production decreases in Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Iraq, U.S. production has slipped below 9 million barrels per day for three consecutive weeks. With the U.S. rig count at its lowest level since 1999, the industry simply cannot replace supply overnight. Using the Bakken as an example, in order to get back to 2014 production levels within the next 18 months, the play would have to ramp up to about 140 rigs. Today, there are only about 30 rigs running in the play. Indeed, it will take an enormous amount of investment to get back to peak production anytime soon.

“Not long ago, it feels like about six weeks, oil prices were down near $30. This week they're trading around $43. That's a 50 percent increase almost,” Brooks said. “Hamm said he's very pleased also that OPEC had some problems lately. They tried to reach a deal on production levels, and they couldn't do it. He says that's a sign that the world is getting away from OPEC's stranglehold.”

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