Valero Energy's CEO Presents at 2013 UBS Global Oil and Gas Conference (Transcript)

May.22.13 | About: Valero Energy (VLO)

Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO)

2013 UBS Global Oil and Gas Conference Call

May 22, 2013 12:20 PM ET


William Klesse – President and CEO


Craig Weiland – UBS

William Klesse

All right, so as a brief overview of Valero, we're a refining and wholesale marketing company. Very focused on that business now, we have ethanol production as well, lots of logistics, but we did spend off our company retail two years, so we have about 16 refineries, 2.8 million barrels a day of capacity.

We're large obviously. As I said, we're a wholesale marketer, we have a branded wholesale marketing segment in the business. And about 7,300 branded outlets, they're actually Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Texaco, Beacon, Ultramar. So we have all these different brands.

We're in the corn and ethanol business, we're third largest producer there. We also have a plant that will start up here in the third quarter, be done here at the end of the second quarter where we're going to make renewable diesel, and we have a partner in Darling, and this is actually taking fats, greases, waste animals from chicken processing, things like that and make a very high quality diesel fuel.

With the CST spin, we actually dropped our employment base a little more than in half.

This is the footprint of our company. You can see it's a very diverse footprint. We're in most of the basins. We exited the US east coast, but we acquired Pembroke in the UK, and we have our Quebec refinery, so we believe we have very strong access to the east coast without actually having an operation there. And you can see the spread.

Also, where our ethanol plants are located are well positioned as well, and then the point I'd like you to notice because this is what's happening, is as the oil, NG, natural gas liquids, everything is coming to US Gulf Coast more than 50% of our refining capacity is in the US Gulf Coast.

Generally, this is what we're doing really, enhancing our returns, it's all strategy driven here to add long term shareholder value.

You think about it, we're adding ML payable assets, railcars, pipelines, terminals, docks, where it then come to expanding distillates, I've got slide later on shows it's growing faster in the world, better margins, processing more light oil, export more products.

Valero does not present to you a US demand picture for transportation fuels. We don't have a lot of growth, we don't see that happening. We do think volumes would improve with economic recovery, but then you have Cap A [ph] and other factors influencing it. So for us, we're very focused that all of the volumes are going to be exported.

NGLs, we're looking at alkylation projects. We are already in the BTX business, so you have this kind of opportunities that are really coming back to the United States.

We spun off our retail, and we mentioned, we're evaluating forming another MLP since we already had one that basically left before.

And we continue to return cash to the shareholder through dividends, and share buybacks. So there's a few key trends. I think you all know these very well. US and Canadian oil production is going up very, very rapidly. It's up over a million barrels a day, I guess year-on-year again.

Significant infrastructure investments are going in by everybody, but including us as well, as I mentioned. Low cost natural gas is a huge competitive advantage.

Frankly for all manufacturing, but certainly for refining, petrochemical industries, it's just a huge advantage that accrues to the United States and North America.

Distillates are growing more rapidly. It is the fuel of choice that is, when you look at transportation fuels in the world, so it's growing faster than gasoline, and it is a bigger market. And then you just think about our competitive position and with exports growing, you have under supplied market, you were actually taking market share from western Europe because we're far more competitive in this business, plus you've had some shutdowns, you have poor operations in certain countries that have just allowed us to have our industry in United States, but then Valero, to have an advantage in the Atlantic basin.

So going into a little more detail here, it's clear that production is going up rapidly, this is US and Canadian production here, plus the purple line is imports into the US, you can see how they're dropping, and then look at this growth going out to 2020.

You all have seen many different forecasts, you have your own forecast, but they're all the same way, they're all going up to the right. You cannot export US crude today, you can export it to Canada, there are some ANS exceptions, but this crude is growing and as I mentioned earlier, growing down primarily on the most cost effective way, down through the mid content, down to the US Gulf Coast.

The yellow here, that includes the Gulf of Mexico because several people have mentioned to me, the Gulf of Mexico is growing as well. And you can see that looking at the yellow part of this chart.

And then as you know, because where all this oil is being found when you look at the basin maps when you visit with EMP companies, it's in places you don't have a logistics. And this chart clearly shows the impact on some of the then discounts because you go to higher form of transportation. And that higher form is rail.

So where you lack pipelines, it's been rail. There has been some trucking which is even more expensive than rail.

So looking at this, you can see as we go down with the certain types of crude, and we know they're from these basins, then the little triangle is the four, the trailing four week. So all these differentials have come in from the last year, and that indicates to you that transportation is being added, and there's more take away capacity coming into all of these markets including the WCS market as well.

I just mentioned, we're all investing in these logistics, and so you can see on this chart, so this is increasing inland to the Gulf Coast logistics. And so we've made an estimate of how much is actually out there in the capacity.

This is to the Gulf Coast, and so you can see here, as you look at this, this is going up very, very rapidly.

Now the yellow line we have on this chart is this, into the Gulf Coast, the light and medium sweet imports, and you can see how quickly that is dropping.

We're down now to just a little over 100,000 barrels a day of imports. That tends to be, unless there's a distress cargo in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, where we're lacking logistics to go from west to east. But those are eventually being solved as well. And you can just see how rapidly, and this Valero's sweet spot, as this oil is coming towards us.

So given the opportunity to get these cost advantage crudes, our strategy as we look at it, is, we're linked to pipelines, we're doing things to improve those logistics, we're benefiting from all these increases whether it's long or Enbridge tax, Seaway, looping of Seaway, Keystone XL South, whether it's energy transfer trunkline, it's something you've been informed about, all of these pipelines and their capacity are coming our way.

St. Charles, we're building a rail facility there, that's in New Orleans, so it's just outside of New Orleans, they handle Canadian crudes.

We also are looking at other pipeline options there, plus we barged down to Mississippi as well. Benicia, we're working a rail facility, we expect to have this operation by the fourth quarter, we're also working on things in Southern California, but they're just taking longer.

In Quebec, so this would be up on the St. Lawrence River. We're actually putting in rail that should be operational in July, 3,000 or so barrels a day and that will expand. We're also involved in the Enbridge Line 9, we also have shipped a cargo of Eagle Ford to Canada, we have a license to do that.

And so this is why I said to those of you that listened to our earnings call, that I believe our Quebec refinery in a year or two, somewhere in that range, will be a North American supply refinery where today, it is a foreign supplied refinery if you considered foreign supply to North America.

You have your own maps, you try to put your numbers on a piece of paper as we have done here. We tried to show what we think is happening when you look about 12, 24 months because this move around a lot month to month.

We've estimated these different numbers, some of it we actually know what it cost because we've been trying to do it, or estimates.

Clearly, rail is clearing east and west, there is some rail north and south. Some of you know there's another rail facility going in over in Belmont. So there's a lot of rail happening around.

But you see numbers, we put down here, you had the west Texas stuff that's flown to the Gulf Coast, but this is how we see these markets largely developing. If you look at even the east coast, we can ship from Corpus Christi to Quebec refinery for around $2 a barrel. Yet if you go into the east coast of United States, it's going to be in the $5 or $6. One of our competitors actually disclosed a number $4.50 a barrel. And they were the first mover. And that's because of Jones Act versus non-Jones Act. So you can get a good feel for the numbers.

But if you started thinking about the differentials as you walk through the slide, you have cushing to the Gulf Coast, Houston, then that's a differential, $4 or some in that range, Houston to St. James, you're going to have a differential, you all know what this shale whole hold [ph] tariff is. You can see as things keep moving along.

Yet, if your barging and you have enough barge capacity, then certainly from Houston to St. James would be less than the whole hold tariff if you could do it by a barge.

So switching from oil just to natural gas, this is a huge competitive advantage for North America. It's huge for any manufacturing, whether it's the petrochemical industries, steel making, it doesn't really matter. It's a huge, huge advantage, and it's a huge advantage for the refining business.

Here, we articulated for refining, and we just go over the $4 natural gas, we made it equivalent to a barrel, here, so $1.11 a barrel. If you think about where a refiner uses natural gas, cost to goods sold, hydrogen, it's usually handled in cost to goods sold, or in expense.

To put this whole chart in expense, in perspective for you, Valero's cash operating cost to our entire system, $3.70 a barrel, our oil industry is very competitive, so I say we're better than the other guys, so say, $4 for the industry, but it's cash operating cost, very, very efficient business, you start looking at these differentials, between some base running LNG versus North America. You can see that's $3 a barrel, it's nearly almost all of our cash operating cost through our system. This is a huge competitive advantage. Valero is a huge consumer of 700 million cubic feet a day, every dollar, $700,000 a day, and roughly, it's a 50-50 mix between cost to goods sold and expense, but it's still cash.

Part of our focus has been on distillates. I mentioned it earlier, just looking at the chart, you have at the bottom. It's the Gulf Coast product margins, blue is gasoline, red is distillates against Brent. And the chart on your right is the demand in the world, the global demand, the red line being diesel, and the blue being gasoline. Both are growing in the world, but you can see that distillates is growing much faster, and you come back over to the left, and you see the margins are obviously much better in distillate, and this is a key part of our business.

Europe is systemically short diesel, they're long marginal refining capacity, but they process more expensive crude oils, and they don't have the natural gas advantage. So they become in the Atlantic basin, the marginal refiner.

So at Valero, I mentioned, we're increasing our distil yield, those of you who've invested or follow us know we've been building these hydro crackers. We finished one last year, we're finishing the other one right now, will be operating in the third quarter, in July.

But we've increased our distil yields a lot. You can see the chart on your left, it's just the yields and shows where Valero matches with some of our peers. And then how we're changing over time. Then the chart on the right is just a graphic representation of it.

But basically, we have the two big plants, the second one finishing right now, then we have some expansions, we're going to expand each of those, we already have our permit in New Orleans, St. Charles to expand, we also will expand in Port Arthur, we'll convert the Meraux refinery which we bought to make distillates because we were going to convert to units that they have there.

And we get very close to a 1:1 ratio which is very unique for a North American refiner.

So if you look at US refining capacity, it's competitive. We've already mentioned crude oil and natural gas, very efficient business. Here we have a couple of charts. The one on your left shows this huge change in net product imports, and you can see how US used to be a product importer, and we swung over to a large exporter.

Putting it in perspective, US demand about 3.6 million barrels a day of diesel, we're exporting 900 [ph] to a million barrels a day of diesel. 20% to 25% of the US distillate production is being exported.

Gasoline, we imported into the north east, we're exporting out to the Gulf Coast, we're still a net importer of gasoline, but only slightly. And so we're very, very competitive here.

And then if you start to look at where are you competitive, you can see the midcontinent, the Gulf Coast, obviously the Rockies, they're all very, very competitive markets just looking at operating rates. And then you have the disadvantaged markets which you would expect to see this way.

So our strategy has over time, we have this Atlantic basin, we want to be a real player in the Atlantic basin, we added Pembroke, we have Quebec, we come out of the Gulf Coast, and where is your market? Your markets are South America, Latin America. Demand growth, just out right growth, and also supply has been reduced by some of the Venezuela shutdown of Avanza [ph], there was some east coast refining and obviously the refining shutdown in Europe.

And then of course these markets import, west Africa. Don't be surprise when you hear about a gasoline cargo actually going to west Africa from the US Gulf Coast.

Now it's all about demand, crude oil continues to grow, demand or consumption is growing in the world, it's not really growing in the United States as I said earlier, but it's growing in the world. Emerging markets are leading this. And so you start to think it is about -- this is a global business we're dealing in.

So whatever transportation always is the equalizer into all of these markets. and liquid products, they're storable, they're transportable, they're fungible so wind up moving them everywhere.

When you look at this, you can see we have a little bit of growth in the US in the chart. That's because we think we are going to get an economic recovery here. I know demand has been weak for the first few months of the year, but we still believe. And remember housing is a big factor in this. When you still have 8% unemployment, California have over 10% unemployment, we sell fuel to everybody. And if these people would get back to work, our demand will go up. But then over time Cap A and other factors will influence it.

So demand that the world is growing now where all of you had this concern is a lot of refining capacity being added, no doubt about it, China and the Middle East are adding significant amounts of capacity. One plant in Saudi starts up this year, there’s another plant starting up. You can see that those are going for internal demand and export sent to those regions. China tends to build capacity that ultimately services its own demand even though refining capacity is added in steps where demand is more on some trend line. But we see it still as strong export market because a lot of it is still regional, a lot of these new capacity that’s being added is costing a huge amount of money. The Brazilian refinery now is 16 billion to 20 billion for 200 and something thousand barrels a day refinery. It’s only four years late.

The Mexicans have the Tula refinery which they’re considering building 230,000-barrel a day for 12 billion. Somebody pointed out on the earnings call to Valero, one of the guys on the call that some of these things are basically one-and-a-half times since Valero’s entire capitalization. So I don’t think you’re going to see them built. You can buy products much more economically in the Gulf Coast.

Politics gets into all of these but now you even have the Colombians who announced the other day that their projects are way behind and way over budget. So you’re not going to get them built and then you come to some of the other countries like Ecuador, Peru, Algeria, Egypt that announced refineries, honestly, they don’t have the money. So who’s the weakest link? The weakest link is Western Europe. And there, you’re probably 2 million to 3 million barrels a day of refining capacity that’s on the bubble.

Now switching back to Valero’s capital spending, you can see on this chart, we try to give you a better disclosure. We’re completing the Saint Charles hydrocracker as I’ve said. We have those expansions. But you look at the things we’re doing way over on your right, logistics, distillate hydrocracking, processing lighter oils and they’re very consistent with the trends that we’ve talked about and that actually know about anyway.

So you can see how our money – we’ve raised our capital spending from the guidance I gave earlier in the year. It’s mostly in the logistics area although I have acknowledged that we’ve overrun and we’ve late getting our Saint Charles hydrocracker finished. Very, very large product and frankly, I think our people are doing a fine job but we have overrun it and we are a little late.

Looking at some of the logistics that we’re doing, many of you have heard me say, the refining business has changed tremendously the last few years. It’s all about location, location, location, and if you don’t have the location, you better have the logistics to overcome some of your location disadvantages. And that’s what we’ve been doing here.

We’re creating assets that can qualify for an MLP as well. These investments are in, as I said rail, rail on loading, rail loading, barging and all of this. We purchased rail cars but to show you how the business has changed, these rail cars are going to come in to us. They’ve been coming in, they’re coming in monthly and they’re going to come in all the way through the second quarter of ‘15.

And I mentioned that we have these facilities going in. We’re involved in Line 9 at Quebec and we believe you have to be able to export products to the world markets. So expect us to unlock, continue to unlock value. We’re reviewing an MLP. Valero already has done an MLP, came originally from Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock logistics for some of the older people in here. Now, it’s New Star, they’ve added some other stuff.

It separated completed in ‘06 but we’re building a portfolio of logistics. We’re not blind to the multiples that the market place is willing to pay for logistics assets. We do have assets that we’ve built. So we are actively looking at it and sell these valuations and the numbers you know.

We have a portfolio, at least last year, somewhere between 50 million and 100 million of EBITDA but that does not include all the stuff that I’ve talking about that the company is investing in right now.

Distillate hydrocracking, I mean, these hydrocrackers are the right projects for the right time. They have a gas to liquids component. There’s a very good chart in the back of our deck that explains where you get the liquid volume gain in that chart. And our deck is well done by these two guys and that we give you a lot of industry data as well as stuff on Valero but actually explains the gas to liquids because when your $4 dollar gas and high liquids, there’s just a lot of advantages there.

But these are growth opportunities. In the first quarter, we disclosed that the Port Arthur hydrocracker in and of itself contributed $94 million of EBITDA. We had a little bit of downtime fixing a few things. It would have been higher. There’s no reason to assume that we’re not going to be generating EBITDA in this range but in this range. And then we have the Diamond Green diesel project that’s finishing as well.

These expansions that we’re going to do to these projects are really almost at a third of the capital cost of the grassroots facility, which you would expect some economies from the base. But we’ll add basically another hydrocracker here to our portfolio at about a third of the cost.

So just to take you a little more on the hydrocracking, even in 2009, now this is just an EBITDA chart but using the pricing in 2009, which is a very difficult year for us but I know it’s a difficult year for all of you too. But you can see these two units would have contributed $600 million and if you use pricing in ‘12, it’s over a $1 billion. Really, we expect them to be $500 million EBITDA per year projects, just the two main hydrocrackers, which is very unique to Valero because we have these growth, these organic growth projects, one done and one that’s going to be going here in the third quarter.

And obviously we want to run more domestic oil, and it’s coming, we showed the chart on production. It’s coming very rapidly. Yes, we have a portfolio of heavy crude refining in the Gulf Coast, but we also have some light sweet crude plants as well. We’ve announced to crude fractionators or toppers to allow us. They’re unique because at those two refineries, Houston and Corpus Christi, we are buying feed stock which priced at world market, yet you have crude oil that’s going to be a deferential lower than world market. So you can see you have economics to do such projects.

McKay will be done pretty darn soon. We have opportunities at Port Arthur where we have crude tower and also at Meraux. So the chart over on the right just shows you that we’re still a feedstock buyer at Corpus Christi and Houston but we’ll be a lot closer and much more in balance.

And then you just look at the overall volumes we have and you can see that we’ve been increasing our ability here to run this cost advantaged crudes and the red line just shows the imports that we pull in to the market as the US in total, they’re declining. And that’s why when you look at all of these numbers, you see that North America, not just US but you have to consider North America is becoming so much closer to being actually near balance on crude oil, which most of us would have thought never would have happened. Still be a few million short, but it’s an amazing event. So clearly are replacing these imports.

So we’ve been returning cash to the shareholders. We’ve demonstrated that we’re doing that. We spun off 80% of retail. That’s like 325, 350 of value we gave you. We’ve raised our dividend. We’ve been buying our shares in the last two years, four months, we bought 37 million shares. We’ve been reducing our debt. We’ll pay off another $300 million of debt. And you can see the chart on the lower right shows these numbers plus the retail spend.

We continue to improve our operations. Many of the plants we bought were under invested in, under-utilized, under-invested. We have improved a lot. We have a clear goal to be a first quartile refiner in the benchmarking surveys and our operations have improved. These are just two examples of the charts on your right.

Mechanical availability is key because everything starts there. If your plants are reliable, your safety statistics are better, your environmental performance is better, your regulatory performance is better. And we really are very diligently working on all of our weak performance. You can never take your eye off of safety environmental or regulatory matters.

So we believe Valero is an excellent buy for the reasons I’ve said. We think this business is still going to be volatile. We’re going to have the spreads move around in our appendix which have some differentials from [inaudible], Mars and all and they move around. So it’s always volatile, it’s always seasonal. But you have these underlying trends that are here. They’re coming our way but they’re good for the industry in the States, whether it’s oil productions, infrastructure, natural gas, replacing not as competitive, under-performing refining. And for us, our distillate, our internal growth projects, our improving operations, our logistics, some petrochemical opportunities, oscillation opportunities, and we’ve been returning cash to the shareholder and continue to do it.

We’ve never lost sight of our goal, which is to add long term shareholder value. This is a long-term business. Capital intensive, long-term business. So with that, thank you for your attention. Craig.

Craig Weiland


Unidentified Analyst

[Inaudible] getting what you paid for. Could you talk about more specifically what that issue is? Is it crude from certain basin? Is it crude being blended down at the Gulf Coast? Is it pipelines need to be more specific on what their specifications are so that you get the full range of change in the crude?

Bill Klesse

So I got it. So this has to do with crude quality and getting what you pay for. So in our business, we have gravity adjustment, sulfur adjustments, BS&W, we don’t buy water and solids. So you have these adjustments, which you don’t necessarily have a distillation formula, WTI, you would view WTI as WTI or LLS. You would think LSS is LSS but that’s not really what happens in our business.

And so LLS at Saint James has been blended for years and so as a refiner you’re very careful. But what’s happening in the rest of the oil patch is natural gas liquids or in this case ideal [inaudible] condensates, whether it’s the Eagle Ford, Cushing, whatever, you’re getting so many condensates that the oil producers are having trouble getting rid of these condensates. You don’t have the logistics. And then it comes to netbacks.

So where is the best place to dispose of condensates? We’ll put it in the crude oil. And so crude has gotten lighter. You’re getting these other components and so for instance at the Eagle Ford, we have a hard line in the sand, 55 API gravity or less is oil. Anything above that is something else. And what I think you’re referring to, because I spoke last week I guess, is that Midland WTI was above Cushing WTI and yet it cost you transportation to get from Midland to Cushing. And people were asking us, well, why would you do that? Well, that’s because when you’re buying a WTI barrel at Midland, you’re getting a WTI barrel and what you’re getting at Cushing is not necessarily the same. And there was actually a couple of dollar benefit in being able to buy a neat barrel versus a barrel that is blended.

And this is just the nature of the business and more we’re adding people and adding expertise to be able to check and monitor more of the crude oil because if you get lighter crudes that overloads our light ends, it’s quicker. So that is why I was speaking to that. And it’s really a problem with how do you get to the market these lighter crudes plus condensates that you’re getting.

Unidentified Analyst

Your CapEx budget in 2011 and 2012 was a bit elevated for the hydrocrackers but it’s come down to 2013. Looking out over ’14, ’15, shall we expect CapEx to go back to this 2011, 2012 levels or stabilize where it is here, come down even further? I’m just trying to get a sense of that, coupled with your comments of increased spending on logistics.

Bill Klesse

And so we’ve raised our number to 2.850 billion this year. That does include about 16 million of retail and yes, we’re doing these projects and only guidance I’ve given is really for 2014. And I’ve said that in 2014, you can expect that capital spending to be in this $2.5 billion range. I have not given anything further out. And the reason I haven’t is there are opportunities accruing to all of us in this industry. Several people this morning asked me about NGL fractionators. I don’t see Valero bringing much benefit to an NGL or synergies or knowledge to an NGL fractionator where occidental or marathon maybe in the Utica or enterprise or people have an expertise there.

But then if you look at some of the other things that Valero does, we’re already in the benching [inaudible] business. We’re in the propylene’s business. For the last 15, 20 years of my career, we’ve been taking butane out of gasoline. Now all of the butanes are coming at us. That’s why on one of those slides, and I know I went quickly, we had a comment alkylation. These are very good opportunities that I think you’ll have very inexpensive feed stocks. There are things that Valero does very, very well and they’re bolt right on to the refineries.

So there are opportunities that are being analyzed. I don’t see them as like way over the top. I see them as good profit opportunities for our shareholders. And thus, I don’t want to go any further out on capital spending. But they will be long term contributors of shareholder value. It’s just like the hydrocrackers, because they were so long term, most people didn’t appreciate them but I think now everyone accept they’re the right project at the right time.

Unidentified Analyst

Since you’ve talked about the excess of condensates, what about a condensate splitter since you already have all the export infrastructure?

Bill Klesse

So now from the NGL fractioning down to condensate splitter, the units that we’re talking about doing are the two crude units down at the Gulf Coast because they fit our plants. Right now, I don’t see us with a condensates splitter for basically the same reason we don’t really bring that much to the table. We’re now to gather our condensates then you’re going to get this strange and I’m still going to have some of the components.

So what we’re focused on and what I put in this presentation more than actually condensate splitter.

Craig Weiland

Okay. At this time, we’re going to have to cut [inaudible].

Bill Klesse

Thank you.

Question-and-Answer Session

[No Q&A Session for this event]

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