Crosstex Energy's CEO Discusses Q4 2010 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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Crosstex Energy (XTXI) Q4 2010 Earnings Call February 25, 2011 11:00 AM ET

Executives

William Davis - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Crosstex Energy GP LLC and Executive Vice President of Crosstex Energy GP LLC

Jill McMillan - Manager of Public and Industry Affairs

Barry Davis - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Executive Officer of Crosstex Energy GP LLC, President of Crosstex Energy GP LLC and Director of Crosstex Energy GP LLC

Analysts

James Allred

John Edwards - Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc.

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

Operator

Great day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2010 Crosstex Energy Earnings Conference Call. My name is Thelma and I will be your coordinator for today's event.

[Operator Instructions]

I would now like to turn the presentation over to Ms. Jill McMillan. Please proceed.

Jill McMillan

Thank you, Thelma and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today to discuss Crosstex's fourth quarter and full-year 2010 results. On the call today are Barry Davis, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Bill Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Our fourth quarter and full-year 2010 earnings release was issued early this morning. For those of you who didn't receive a copy, it is available on our website at crosstexenergy.com. If you want to listen to a recording of today's call, you have 90 days to access a replay by phone or webcast on our website.

I will remind you that any statements that might include our expectations or predictions should be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Federal Securities Laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of assumptions and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in these statements, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. We encourage you to review the cautionary statements and other disclosures made in our SEC filings, specifically those under the heading Risk Factors.

I would now turn the call over to Barry Davis.

Barry Davis

Thank you, Jill. Good morning and thank you all for joining us on the call today to discuss our fourth quarter and full-year 2010 earnings and our guidance for 2011. We'll also discuss the state of the industry and opportunities we believe we'll have in the current environment.

Looking briefly at our 2010 financial results, adjusted EBITDA for the year was $186.9 million, up 18% from 2009. Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $50.2 million, up 17% from 2009. Distributable cash flow was $91.2 million in 2010, a 48% increase over 2009. We are forecasting continued growth in 2011, with adjusted EBITDA in the range of $185 million to $215 million. Bill Davis will provide more details on our fourth quarter and full-year 2010 results and our guidance later in the call.

When we began 2010, we said we would restore our financial and organizational strength and continue to reposition Crosstex for the future. We laid out our plans to complete our recapitalization, improve our balance sheet and restore our distributions and dividends. I am pleased to report that we have accomplished our goals. As a result, we have no significant near term debt maturities. We have over $300 million available under our existing debt facilities. We have access to debt and capital markets at attractive rates for growth. And we have organizational capabilities and experience to build and operate large-scale shale midstream projects including gathering, processing, and NGL handling. Today we are a leaner, more efficient organization, focused on performance and long-term growth.

Looking to the future in growth, we recently revamped our business development teams and have substantial resources committed to developing opportunities for growth. We are focusing our growth initiatives on three areas: First, we are aggressively pursuing infrastructure needs in the emerging liquid-rich shale plays where producer activity is focused. The development and growth of these plays and growth in power demand across the United States will create the need for $6 billion to $10 billion annually in infrastructure investment over the next several years. Second, we believe that increasing NGL production will create opportunities for us to better utilize and grow our existing NGL assets in Louisiana, where we have fractionation capacity and the ability to expand that capacity, as well as access to key Louisiana NGL markets. And third, we are evaluating opportunities to acquire assets that are synergistic with our existing assets or that provide a point of entry into new geographic areas. We believe that we have strategic advantages to be successful in growing our business. First, we have tremendous experience with large, rapidly expanding shale developments, such as the Barnett Shale, where we have established a significant gathering and transmission footprint. Second, we have substantial gas processing and NGL capabilities, and in-depth NGL market knowledge. Our capabilities include excess fractionation capacity in Louisiana, with truck, rail and barge access. This helps us compete to build new gathering and processing infrastructure for producers in liquid-rich plays . We should benefit from developing new gathering and processing infrastructure and from the NGL services we offer. And third, we have the organizational capabilities, the people and the systems to identify and develop opportunities and efficiently operate assets that we may develop or acquire.

Turning to operations, I will review our accomplishments in 2010 and update you on first quarter 2011 activities. I'll also provide some insight into what we see for 2011. In 2010, throughput on our North Texas pipeline averaged approximately 339,000 MMBtu per day versus 318,000 for 2009. Our fourth quarter, 2010, throughput on the North Texas pipeline was about 333,000 MMBtu per day, versus approximately 344,000 for the third quarter of 2010. Throughput on the North Texas pipeline is anticipated to remain in this range during 2011. Throughput in 2010 on our North Texas gathering systems was 730,000 MMBtu per day compared with 793,000 MMBtu per day in 2009. And our processing volumes were 209,000 per day versus 2009 volumes of 219,000 per day. Fourth quarter 2010 gathering throughput was about 711,000 MMBtu per day versus approximately 736,000 in the third quarter of 2010. And our plants processed 206,000 MMBtu per day for the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with 224,000 for the third quarter of 2010.

These declines were largely attributable to operations temporarily shutting in existing wells to allow frac operations to be conducted on new wells, and to allow for tie-ins to be made behind existing central delivery points. In addition, certain producers with multiple pipeline options chose to take their gas to other outlets, but the loss of this volume has very low margin impact on us. Beginning in late first quarter 2011, we anticipate substantial volume growth on our gathering and processing systems, due to expansion projects nearing completion which I'll cover in a moment.

The Barnett shale overall continues to perform exceedingly well. In late 2010, cumulative gas production from the Barnett exceeded 8 Tcf. Daily production hit an all-time high at about 5.3 Bcf during the fourth quarter, despite fewer rigs running in the Barnett during the last 24 months. In other words, due to increased efficiency of the rigs, the Barnett exceeded prior peak production with less than half the rigs used in the past. Our assets are primarily located in what has proven to be the core of the Barnett Shale. And we expect continued development around our assets. We continue to see opportunities for incremental growth in North Texas, due to the significant investment we've made in our Barnett infrastructure for nearly five years. We have two very good projects underway with firm volume dedications and relatively low capital investment, compared with their cash flow impact. These two projects will significantly contribute to our gathered volume increase of approximately 100 million cubic feet a day in 2011, with a peak flow rate from these projects of 150,000 to 175,000 Mcf a day in 2012. Total capital cost of these projects is $35 million, with a cash flow of approximately $18 million. The projects are on track to be completed and operational near the end of the first quarter. These are the type of low-cost, high-return opportunities that are created by the strategic position of our assets and that we will continue to invest in. We believe we will see more of these types of incremental investment opportunities as the Barnett is developed over its lifetime.

In Louisiana, our LIG pipeline system is one of the largest most strategically positioned intrastate pipes in the State. We provide 465,000 Mcf a day, fully-contracted take-away capacity for gas from the Haynesville Shale with a volume weighted average life of five years. We offer producers great optionality, so they can reach a variety of interstate and intrastate markets. Drilling in the Haynesville remains active, with 117 rigs running compared with 128 rigs in early October of 2010. In fact, Louisiana's 2010 natural gas production reached 2 Tcf, the highest since 1984, largely due to robust drilling activity in the Haynesville Shale. In 2010, throughput on our LIG system averaged approximately 902,000 MMBtu per day, about the same as 2009. Our fourth quarter, 2010, LIG throughput was 921,000 MMBtu per day versus approximately 883,000 for the third quarter. The increased volumes were due to a new transportation contract on the northern part of the system with a Haynesville Shale producer and increased heating demand this winter on the LIG system.

We continue to work on LIG growth projects. There are new opportunities for us in Central Louisiana, which is experiencing a resurgence of producer activity targeting liquid-rich production. We have existing assets that can provide producers with take away capacity and the ability to expand these assets as needed. The new activity should also offer some attractive processing opportunities for LIG and our PNGL assets. Our LIG system is well positioned to provide us with steady, profitable and reliable business, significant growth opportunities to take advantage of current and strong processing economics.

In southern Louisiana, we have made good progress to expand and improve our processing and natural gas liquids business, primarily due to operational improvements, strong ethane prices and higher processing margins compared with early 2010. Our full year 2010 processing volumes were 874,000 MMBtu per day compared with 747,000 MMBtu per day for 2009. An improved market environment provided more processing opportunities which in turn contributed to higher fractionated NGL volumes.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, processing volumes averaged 840,000 MMBtu per day versus 878,000 in the third quarter. The quarter-to-quarter volume decline was offset by higher processing margins in fractionation volumes in late 2010. We are encouraged by the near-term optimization and growth opportunities for this business because we have great flexibility to increase the utilization of our asset infrastructure.

We are working on projects that create incremental, stable, fee-based income for the NGL fractionation and terminal business. We see a growing need for fractionation and NGL handling as producers make liquid-rich production a priority. This need is primarily driven by gas produced from developing shale plays including the Eagle Ford, Granite Wash, Marcellus, Bakken and Permian basin plays. These areas have limited NGL markets and inadequate NGL infrastructure. We offer producers in these regions an excellent interim solution by transporting their NGLs via truck, rail and barge to our Louisiana fractionators. We are currently handling approximately 1,500 barrels per day from the Marcellus and about 6,300 total barrels per day of truck and rail volumes from other plays. We expect our truck and rail volumes to grow in 2011 as producers pursue these shale plays.

High NGL prices are motivating customers to process as much gas as possible and we are seeing increased NGL deliveries from our Straddle plants. We are on schedule to complete the expansion and restart of our Eunice fractionator in southern Louisiana late in the first quarter. This expansion will give us operational flexibility, increased fractionation capacity and the opportunity to capture new NGL related business. We will resume operations at an initial capacity of about 15,000 barrels per day of NGLs at Eunice. And we could add an additional 21,000 barrels per day of capacity at these facilities as supply grows. We have also identified opportunities to link our processing and NGL business in southern Louisiana with our LIG assets and capabilities. We recently completed an interconnect linking LIGs Gibson gas processing plant to our Pelican plant in the South. Initial volumes from Gibson to Pelican began flowing in December. We will continue to look for additional opportunities to achieve full capacity at our Gibson and Pelican plants.

In summary, we believe the development of the liquid-rich plays will lead to more opportunities to better utilize our processing and NGL facilities. These assets are ideally situated near the Louisiana petrochemical and refining markets. Now I'll turn the call over to Bill who will discuss our fourth quarter and full-year 2010 financial results.

William Davis

Thanks, Barry. Good morning, everyone and thanks for joining us on the call. As always, in our earnings release, we have reconciled certain non-GAAP items to their GAAP equivalents, which we will discuss on this call today. Please refer to the earnings release for the reconciliation.

As we report to you on our results and financial condition in 2010 and give 2011 guidance, we feel we are in great shape. Cash coverage of our distribution for the fourth quarter of 2010 was 1.6x, with over $10 million retained to contribute to our continued deleveraging. Retained cash since restarting our distribution amounts to $16 million, the significant contribution to the equity requirements of our capital program. We exceeded the guidance we gave at the beginning of the year on distributions and dividends, paying a total of $0.51 in distributions and $0.15 on dividends versus the $0.30 and $0.10 in our original guidance. We ended 2010 with a debt to EBITDA of below 4.1x, no borrowings under our credit facility, more than $300 million of liquidity available and no significant near term debt maturities. As you are all aware the capital markets for NLP and general partner equity are open for business. The high-yield markets continue at record-setting pace and the bank market is much improved from just a year ago. Therefore, as we look at the opportunities presented by the abundance of new production and shale developments, we're confident of our ability to execute on the capital needs to fund growth beyond our current operations.

Turning to our financial results for 2010. We realized adjusted EBITDA during the year of about $186.9 million, compared with $158.7 in 2009. And that improvement fell to the bottom line with distributable cash flow for 2010 rising 48% to $91.2 million from $61.7 million in 2009. Fourth quarter 2010 adjusted EBITDA increased 17% to $50.2 million and distributable cash flow increased 60% to $28.1 million over the fourth quarter of 2009. The majority of the difference between the years was related to increased gross operating margins, including significant contributions from gathering and transport, processing and NGL fractionation and marketing. Approximately 77% of the Partnership's 2010 gross margin came from either gathering and transmission business or fixed-fee processing and fractionation, which are not sensitive to commodity prices.

Gross operating margin for the fourth quarter of 2010 increased to $89.4 million, compared with $80.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. And the full-year gross operating margin increased to $338.3 million from $311.2 million for 2009. As I just mentioned, we're able to make improvements in all areas of the business, particularly the LIG segment, which increased $16.6 million year-over-year, with approximately $11.6 million from gathering and transmission primarily due to improved pricing and higher volumes on the northern part of the system, and a gain of $4.9 million from processing. In addition, the PNGL segment increased $13.7 million for 2010 compared with 2009, due to improved processing and NGL marketing environments, as well as the contribution of rail and truck product deliveries on volumes of fractionated NGLs.

Processing margins were strong during 2010, with a weighted average NGL price of $1.03 per gallon, versus an $0.81 average price in 2009. The NGL-to-gas ratio was 263% for the year 2010 and during the fourth quarter rose to 331%. So we continue to see strong processing margins as we go through the first quarter of 2011. In addition, the Partnership is benefiting from increased NGL fractionation in marketing activity, primarily the result of product deliveries by rail and truck to our Louisiana frac facilities. As Barry mentioned earlier, we're currently handling approximately 7,800 barrels per day of truck and rail volumes at our fractionation facilities. As we execute our strategy to import more barrels from developing shale plays we expect this volume to continue to grow.

2010 operating expenses decreased $5.3 million, from 2009, primarily as a result of decreased plant and compressor rent expense. Partially offset by the cost related to our expansions on operations in North Louisiana. 2010 general and administrative expenses of $59.9 million reflected a decline of $11.4 million from 2009, largely due to workforce reductions completed in 2009 and lower legal and professional costs. Depreciation and amortization expense decreased $7.5 million in 2010, primarily due to the extension of the useful lives of various assets in accordance with the findings of an engineering study completed during 2009. Interest expense declined to $87 million in 2010, from $95 million in 2009, which is primarily the result of the impact of some interest rates flops we had in 2009. We've also continued to add to our commodity hedge position for 2011, hedging our position, our percentage of liquids contracts and our processing margin contracts, the two types of contracts which have commodity exposure. For 2011, we currently hedged about 62% of our hedgeable volumes for our percentage of liquid contracts, including amounts hedged with quit options during the second half of this year. And approximately 58% of our hedgeable volumes for our processing margin contracts. We're continuing to evaluate hedging opportunities for 2011 and 2012, in particularly in the light of recent strength in the crude oil markets, which has driven further strength in the NGL markets. We've hedged a small amount of 2012 volumes and will continue to monitor pricing in the forward curve, add 2012 hedges as opportunities arise.

Turning briefly to Crosstex Energy, Inc., the Corporation had a year-end cash balance of a little over $5 million, which will continue to grow as a portion of the distribution it receives each quarter are added to its cash balance. This cash will be used to make any matching contributions needed in the future on equity raises by Crosstex Energy, L.P. and a build-to-reserve for potential income taxes payable in the future. As we have said, we don't currently envision any significant income taxes to be paid by the corporation in the near future.

We are now providing our preliminary 2011 high and low guidance based on a range of commodity pricing, volume, and other assumptions that we have taken into account. We're forecasting 2011 adjusted EBITDA in a range of $185 million to $215 million, and associated distributable cash flow in a range of $86 million to $120 million. At the midpoint of guidance, we expect growth to come from our new production projects in North Texas and from the startup of our Eunice fractionator. Assuming actual results are within the range of guidance, The Partnership anticipates paying distributions in the range of $1.04 to $1.20 per unit for the year and The Corporation expects it could pay quarterly dividends in the range of $0.32 to $0.40 per share, assuming the receipt of the per-unit-distributions as stated above from the Partnership. There are a number of variables that could affect the payment of distributions and dividends of course, and the payment of any distribution and dividend will be subject to approval by the respective boards of directors and economic conditions and other factors existing at the time of determination.

In our guidance, we are assuming weighted average liquids prices will be between $0.83 and $1.18 per gallon. Implying a crude price of between $60 and $86 per barrel. We're also assuming average Henry Hub prices of between $3.50 and $4.50 per MMBtu, which implies natural gas liquids to gas ratios of between 209% and 382% for the period. We've indicated growth capital could range between $50 million and $150 million for the year, and maintenance capital between $11 million and $14 million. The low end of the growth capital range currently includes projects that we have approved on the books and are executing, while the $100 million increase at the upper end of the range includes additional project opportunities that we're studying and evaluating, and could be transacted in 2011. Most of these projects have six to 18 months lead times on their development, so the impact on 2011 EBITDA would likely be nominal.

In 2011, we expect to continue to grow our base business while focusing on the next phase of growth. We will provide additional color on this guidance during our scheduled analyst conference to the buy-side and sell-side analyst community on March 31. And we look forward to seeing many of you for an in-depth overview of our operations and financials at that time. The conference will be webcast and available to the general public. If you have questions or interest in the conference or want more information about it, please contact Jill McMillan or me.

Now I'll turn the call back to Barry.

Barry Davis

Thank you, Bill. As we look at 2011 and beyond, our vision is to be the best midstream energy solutions provider. We will accomplish this by aggressively competing as a preferred partner, driving growth with a highly skilled experienced team, promoting a culture of safety, ensuring Crosstex's financial strength and remaining true to our core company values. We will differentiate ourselves in this highly competitive market by acquiring knowledge, developing strategies and presenting solutions. We believe we do this as well as anyone or better than anyone in the industry.

In 2010, we made great progress executing our strategic plan. Today, we are focused on a clear growth strategy that drives value for our customers, unitholders and shareholders alike. We are positioned to take advantage of the abundant opportunities in and beyond our core areas in this robust industry environment. We believe Crosstex is in the best shape it's ever been and are optimistic about what lies ahead. Now we'll turn the call back to our operator and open it up for any questions that you may have.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Our first question comes from James Allred with Raymond James.

James Allred

Just focusing on your guidance for 2011. Looking at the low-end of your distribution guidance and the low-end of your DCF guidance, you'd be running about, I guess between 1.2 and 1.3 coverage, but at the high-end looks more like 1.4 to 1.5. Can you just give some more insight into your target coverage and how you're thinking about coverage as it relates to distribution growth in 2011?

William Davis

Yes, we typically will think about that in terms of the ability to have predictable cash flows in our results. And so, to the extent, we feel like the cash flows that we're generating or for example from commodity related margins, as opposed to more predictable contract margins. We'll tend to distribute less of those, so as you get into the higher ranges here, that come, to some extent, from higher commodity processing margins, we'll distribute a lower percentage of that distributable cash flow.

James Allred

And just kind of switching over. I'm looking at your Blue Water facility, has your outlook on that plant changed at all, given current spreads? Are you still looking at running that plant more on an opportunistic basis?

Barry Davis

James, it's Barry. We have had the opportunity to run Blue Water recently. Again, it's really a combination of two things. One, is processing margins; and two, is the actual dynamics of flow around the Blue Water plant. We have to have the gas and we have to have the margin available, and in that scenario we run. We have had the opportunity to do that in the last couple of months, so we're benefiting from that.

James Allred

And then just finally, your growth CapEx for 2010 came in at what?

William Davis

A little over $40 million.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Our next question comes from Michael Blum with Wells Fargo.

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

Actually it's Sharon. Question in regards to your processing assumptions, in terms of your 2011 guidance. Are you expecting gas volumes to ramp up?

Barry Davis

Sharon, first of all, looking at the two places that we primarily see volumes, North Texas and in Louisiana, both the LIG system and our South Louisiana, our forecast in North Texas does have a substantial growth in the volumes there as a result of the two projects that we're completing. As we've said, we think by year-end we'll see at or near full capacity, about 280 million a day compared to low-200s that we're seeing now. In South Louisiana, Bill, you got our fronts there?

William Davis

Yes, we don't have a significant change in volumes of processed gas versus 2010. We do anticipate continued growth in fractionated volumes due to the truck and rail business that we're executing.

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

And maybe if you could just touch on, I guess, for the fourth quarter. It looked like the processing volumes declined sequentially?

William Davis

Right, and as Barry said, that was offset by the increase in fractionated volumes. Once again, the truck and rail business, we did have some gas at PNGL that went to another system beginning in the fourth quarter. So we have a small decline in volume as a result.

Barry Davis

And Sharon, I'd just emphasize, I think, if you look back quarter-over-quarter, for several quarters, what you would see is some volatility in the PNGL volumes and that's really just the nature of that business. I mean, we're processing primary Straddle plant gas, gas that flows through the pipes that we're connected to. And from month-to-month or year-to-year, we can see some significant change in the flow of that volume. Generally that's the reason for any fluctuations.

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

And, I guess in terms of the high-end of your growth CapEx guidance. Is there one particular region that you guys are focusing on or one larger project of that $150 million budget?

William Davis

Well, the good news is, it's not just one region or not just one project. We are working on a number of projects and at this point, feel comfortable to put that size of investment into our guidance range. Which means we have some level of confidence that we will do some projects that are beyond current known and budgeted projects. I would say, as we said in the presentation, we are essentially working all of the areas with more advancement in certain areas than others but it we be premature at this to define what those are.

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

And Barry, maybe if you could just touch on what type of returns are you targeting for those types of projects?

Barry Davis

Sharon, I mean, it would be consistent with our historical returns. One thing to keep in mind is, cost of capital is lower today, which some believe is driving returns down. We still think the types of projects that we're getting will drive mid-teens or high returns on the projects. Generally looking at it from a -- getting synergies from say, our PNGL fractionation capacity. If we're able to do gathering and processing in an area and then get some upside with the synergy with our NGL facilities existing, then we can certainly enhance our returns there.

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

And, I guess, just your debt balance and liquidity?

William Davis

What was the question Sharon?

Sharon Lui - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

Your debt balance and your liquidity, as of the end of the quarter?

William Davis

Yes, we have nothing drawn on the revolver at that point. We have about $85 million in letters of credit outstanding. So availability is about $335 million.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Our next question comes from John Edwards with Morgan Keegan.

John Edwards - Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc.

Just wondering on your CapEx. Your growth capital guidance, the $50 million that's approved. Were those some of the projects that you were hoping for in 2010, they just have moved over to 2011?

William Davis

We initiated the three bigger projects that we've got going on in 2010, and this is the wrap-up of the spending on those projects, which namely are the Fossil Creek project in North Texas, the Benbrook project in North Texas and the Eunice frac restart in the PNGL asset. Those have a combined capital of $45 million, of which, a little over 2/3 is being spent in 2011 here in the first quarter to bring those online.

John Edwards - Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc.

And then I'm just curious, on the truck and rail business. What kind of contribution are you looking from that? And then what's the sustainability of that contribution in your view?

Barry Davis

Let me speak first of all to the sustainability, John. We think that this is both a near-term and a long-term solution for some of the bottlenecking that we're seeing come about in the liquid-rich plays. We think we can be an interim solution, like we are in the Marcellus, until there is a permanent solution with pipeline. But we always think there's going to be local/regional bottlenecks, where we can provide an outlet on an interim basis. So it's hard to say, I think it can be near-term, the next two to three years, but three years from now we maybe working new plays that will then need an interim solution. So we think it's more sustainable than not.

William Davis

Yes, in terms of the amount of contribution, you can see that our NGLs fractionated year-over-year, go up nearly 50%. And that is, in a large extent, the contribution of the rail and truck volumes, which I really want to hand it to the creativity of our PNGL of the team for being able to execute around this new type of business for us. It's a major contributor.

Barry Davis

And, John, let me add further to -- like we are looking for long-term solutions for these areas that are seeing bottlenecks. We're also looking at long-term solutions for our NGL facilities, trying to provide permanent throughput, if you will, through pipeline connections or even permanent rail outlets. So we're not just thinking of it as an interim solution, but we think there's some ways to be connected to the overall Infrastructure.

John Edwards - Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc.

And then lastly, you were speaking about you were evaluating acquisition opportunities. I'm just, obviously, you mentioned a whole range of the shale plays. Are there any areas of more particular focus, I guess, than others? For example, like the Eagle Ford?

Barry Davis

John, I would like -- let me remind you, our position in the Barnett really began with an acquisition of what we call, kind of a cornerstone or a platform asset, that we purchased from Chief [Chief Holdings LLC] and then we essentially doubled or more the size of those facilities overtime. We think there are, some of that plays that are getting to the point where you see the early-stage developers, guys who go in and contract for the earliest part of the development or even producers who build for themselves. We are working some opportunities where we would see that in other plays. And again, at this point, I think it's fair to say that there are six or seven key plays and that we are working in all of those and I wouldn't want to identify which ones might be the first one to come together.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our Q&A session for today's event. I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Barry Davis for closing remarks.

Barry Davis

Thelma, thank you for coordinating the call, and let me just say thank you to everyone who's been on the call. I think 2010 has been a great year for all of us and we are more excited about what we're working on now for 2011. You've heard us say the word growth a number of times and that really does dominate what we're thinking about right now. So we look forward to continuing to report good results and good results on our growth opportunities ahead. Thank you, and have a great day and a great weekend.

Operator

Thank you for your participation in today's conference. This concludes today's presentation. You may now disconnect, and have a wonderful day.

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