By Liz Hampton
June 23 (Reuters) - U.S. pipeline and storage operator Easton Energy is planning to expand its natural gas liquids and olefins storage at existing salt caverns along the Texas Gulf Coast and add crude storage capability.
Demand for energy storage has soared as the COVID-19 pandemic crushed fuel demand, spurring oil producers and traders to fill storage facilities across the United States. Oil prices have rebounded since April, but U.S. Gulf Coast crude storage levels hit a record on June 12, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Easton's salt dome in Markham, Texas, is located between petrochemical markets in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, and crude export markets between Freeport and Corpus Christi.
NGLs and olefins already are being stored at the Markham facility, and Easton's new agreement with Texas Brine Company gives it rights to add crude storage. In total, the company has rights to 50 million barrels of storage, totaling 13 caverns. Three of those caverns are already leased, leaving a remainder of 40 million barrels of storage capacity.
Houston-based Easton is backed by Cresta Fund Management, which also backs Sentinel Midstream. The companies are working on various pipeline and storage agreements in the crude oil space.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)