Pipeline companies fete Cushing with BBQ N Blues
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Saturday, June 09, 2012
6/09/12 at 4:47 AM
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CUSHING - Nothing says pipeline safety and economic development like smoked brisket and blues riffs.
At least that's the friendly idea behind the 17th annual Cushing BBQ N Blues Festival, which runs through Saturday on an acreage just north of town. The three-day event has been a meaty, musical gift of mutual thanks between the public and the pipeline companies that work in and around one of the world's biggest crude-oil hubs.
"It's kind of their way of paying back to the community," said Brent Thompson, executive director of the Cushing Chamber of Commerce.
Eleven pipeline companies set up tents and hook up to one giant smoker. The firms foot the bill for the food, while the $5 charge per person for a taster's kit actually goes half to the chamber's fund and half to a scholarship fund.
Shawn Roberts, who works for Cushing's largest terminal operator, Plains All-American Pipeline LP, enjoys the annual chance to reconnect with the people who live near the oil tanks and pipelines. The meal also is an outlet to talk about pipeline safety and the "Call before you dig" campaigns.
"We cook it ourselves, and it turns out pretty good," Roberts said. "It's edible, anyway."
It'd better be, since the companies are competing for judge's choice and people's choice awards for their barbecue. The winning outfit gets bragging rights for a year.
The terminals and transport business have become huge in Cushing, a Payne County town that has known every segment of the oil industry. The Cushing Field attracted producers in droves many decades ago, and then numerous refineries kept the townspeople employed.
The refineries are all gone, but Cushing is now home to a collection of terminals that can store close to 80 million barrels. The hub also is the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate crude, whose price is the benchmark on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Cushing has become so famous that President Barack Obama visited in March to tout his energy achievements during the election year.
A host of interstate pipelines, including the Keystone XL, run into or out of the crude-oil interchange.
"It's probably one of the most critical in the world," Roberts said. "There's a lot of jobs here because of it. Cushing would be a farming and ranching community if not for this."
The 13 pipeline companies operating out of Cushing employ about 500 people, not a huge number but full of relatively good-paying jobs, the chamber's Thompson pointed out.
"It's a huge impact," he said. "The community is well aware of it."
In addition to the barbecue, the festival treats pipeline employees with a golf tournament and a clay shoot. The smoker, which Thompson praised as possibly the world's largest permanent cooker, weighs more than 13 tons.
Roberts is happy to use the occasion for public safety awareness. He doesn't know whether the information provided by the companies has saved lives, but he believes it most likely has prevented property damage.
Saturday's festivities get under way at 5 p.m. on land owned by the Cushing Economic Development Foundation.
Cushing storage owner-operators and their capacities in barrels
1. Plains All-American 18.5 million
2. Enbridge 18 million
3. Magellan Midstream 12 million
4. Rose Rock Midstream 7 million
5. Blueknight 6.7 million
6. Gavillon 4 million
7. Enterprise Product 3.1 million
8. Parnon 3 million
9. Deep Rock 1 million
10. Coffeyville Resources 1 million
11. ConocoPhillips 800,000
Original Print Headline: Companies fete Cushing
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
Grouped around a giant community smoker, tents erected by 11 pipeline and terminal companies are part of the annual Cushing BBQ N Blues Festival, now in its 17th year. Courtesy