Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP (BWP)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 30, 2012 9:00 am ET


Allison McLean - Director of Investor Relations of of Boardwalk Gp Llc

Stanley C. Horton - Chief Executive Officer of Boardwalk GP LLC, President of Boardwalk GP LLC and Director of Boardwalk GP LLC

Jamie L. Buskill - Chief Financial Officer of Boardwalk GP LLC, Senior Vice President of Boardwalk GP LLC and Treasurer of Boardwalk GP LLC


Paul Jacob

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Scott Fogleman - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q1 2012 Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP Earnings Conference Call. My name is Brie, and I'll be your operator for today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this call is being recorded for replay purposes. I would like to turn the call over to your host for today, Ms. Allison McLean, Director of Investor Relations. Please proceed.

Allison McLean

Thank you, Brie. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the First Quarter 2012 Earnings Call for Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP. I'm Allison McLean. I'm pleased to be joined today by Mr. Stan Horton, our President and CEO; and Mr. Jamie Buskill, our CFO. If you'd like a copy of the earnings release associated with this call, please download it from our website at

Following our prepared remarks this morning, we will turn the call over for your questions. We would like to remind you that this conference call will include the use of statements that are forward-looking in nature. Statements in this earnings call related to matters that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's beliefs and assumptions using currently available information and expectations. Actual results achieved by the company may differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statement. The company expressly disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements made during this call.

I'd also like to remind you that during this call today, we may discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures, such as EBITDA and distributable cash flow. With regard to such financial measures, please refer to our earnings release for a reconciliation to the most comparable GAAP measures.

Now I'd like to turn the call over to Mr. Stan Horton.

Stanley C. Horton

Thank you, Allison. Good morning, everyone. I hope you've had a chance to review the press release we issued this morning. In addition to reporting earnings, we increased our quarterly distribution to $53.25 per unit or $2.13 per unit annualized. This morning, I'm going to provide a brief industry and commercial update, and then Jamie will review the financial results and provide an update on our financing activities.

As everyone who follows this industry is well aware, natural gas prices are trading in the $2 range, a range we've not seen in more than a decade. These low gas prices are a result of the warmest winter in 80 years, combined with robust gas supply. These conditions have had both a positive and negative impacts to our business.

Our utilization-driven revenues were negatively impacted by lower gas prices and lower throughput due to the warm winter weather. However, like storage operators everywhere, the warm winter has resulted in storage inventory levels that are much higher than normal this time of year. These high storage inventory levels, combined with extremely low gas prices at the front of the NYMEX curve, are currently producing parking and lending spreads that are far more favorable than last year.

Couple of things to note about parking and lending: first, a large portion of these transactions are typically entered into after the withdrawal season is complete; and second, parking and lending revenues are recognized across the entire time frame of the transaction, which can often span a year in duration. Therefore, although parking and lending revenues did not significantly increase in the first quarter, we are encouraged by the spreads we're seeing in the market right now.

As a result of a successful equity offering, which occurred earlier in the year, we were able to purchase the remaining equity ownership interest in Boardwalk HP Storage from an affiliate of our general partner for approximately $285 million. Purchasing the remaining equity interest in the HP Storage was the goal for us this year, and I'm very pleased that we were able to complete this transaction so early in the year. As Jamie will discuss in greater detail, these assets are already contributing to the financial results of the company. We also are developing a new cavern that will increase working gas capacity in HP Storage by approximately 5 billion cubic feet. This new cavern is expected to go into service in the first half of 2013.

Longer term, we are seeing demand respond to ample natural gas supplies in both the industrial and power generation sectors. In addition to the 100,000 MMBtu a day, Baton Rouge/River Corridor expansion that we discussed last quarter, in the first quarter of this year, we obtained a long-term firm commitment to serve an additional proposed combined cycle gas-fired plant. This additional commitment is for 125,000 MMBtu a day and is subject to the customer obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals to proceed with the construction of the plant. Collectively, these commitments will require approximately $50 million in growth capital. We anticipate that service will commence around the 2014 time frame.

For the industrial sector, we are seeing a heightened interest for delivery capacity, especially in the Mississippi River corridor area of Louisiana as industrials, particularly in the petrochemical segment, are beginning to develop or increase production in order to leverage low U.S. gas prices.

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