EIA expects the Brent-WTI crude price differential to contract as new Cushing-to-USGC pipelines are built and existing pipelines expanded. The planned capacity additions should reduce the differential as the increased capacity helps balance crude supply and demand in Cushing, while supplying the Gulf Coast with additional crude. The Enbridge/Enterprise Seaway pipeline is expected to expand its capacity from 150,000 bbl/d to 400,000 bbl/d by early 2013 and then to 850,000 bbl/d by mid-2014. TransCanada's Gulf Coast Pipeline project is expected to add between 700,000 and 830,000 bbl/d of capacity from Cushing to the Gulf Coast in late 2013.
The relationship between WTI and Brent appears to have undergone a fundamental change. New pipeline capacity from Cushing to the Gulf Coast will make it unlikely that light sweet crudes will move from the Gulf Coast to Cushing for delivery against WTI futures contracts as in the past. This suggests that the historical WTI premium to Brent in the futures market is unlikely to return.