On January 14, 2013, we announced that the Board of Directors of Enterprise’s general partner approved an increase in the partnership’s quarterly cash distribution rate with respect to the fourth quarter of 2012 to $0.66 per unit, representing a 6.5 percent increase over the $0.62 per unit rate that was paid with respect to the fourth quarter of 2011. Enterprise generated distributable cash flow of $886 million for the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to $1.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2011. Distributable cash flow for the fourth quarter of 2012 included $31 million of net proceeds from the sale of assets, while distributable cash flow for the fourth quarter of 2011 included $593 million of cash proceeds from the sale of assets.
Enterprise’s distributable cash flow for the fourth quarter of 2012 provided 1.5 times coverage of the cash distributions that will be paid on February 7, 2013 to unitholders of record on January 31, 2013. The partnership retained approximately $308 million of cash flow for the fourth quarter of 2012, which is available to reinvest in growth capital projects, reduce debt and decrease our need to issue additional equity.
“The fourth quarter of 2012 demonstrated the benefits of our investments in fee-based businesses serving the growing shale plays. Despite our natural gas processing and related NGL marketing business reporting a $66 million decrease in gross operating margin compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, primarily due to lower NGL prices and equity NGL production, Enterprise reported record gross operating margin of $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2012 driven by record NGL, crude oil, refined products and petrochemical pipeline volumes of 4.5 million barrels per day, record NGL fractionation volumes of 707,000 barrels per day and record fee-based natural gas processing volumes of 4.7 billion cubic feet per day. This was a $61 million increase in gross operating margin compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Likewise, our distributable cash flow, excluding the proceeds from sale of assets, was also a record $855 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, a $39 million increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.