NEW YORKMPLX LP’s crude and fuel pipeline volumes fell about 8% to average 4.72 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in the fourth quarter, driven by lower refinery runs at Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) as the coronavirus crisis weighs on oil demand.

Crude pipeline volumes fell 7% to about 2.97 MMbbl/d in the fourth quarter, MPLX said.

Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s total refinery throughput, or the amount of crude it processed, in the fourth quarter was about 2.5 MMbbl/d, compared with about 3.1 MMbbl/d a year earlier.

Global oil demand collapsed in 2020 as governments across the world imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. Demand has since begun to slowly recover but remains below levels seen before the pandemic.

The Wink-to-Webster Permian crude pipeline, in which MPLX has an equity interest, continues to progress, with segments and assets expected to come online throughout 2021, MPLX said.

The main segment of the more than 1 MMbbl/d pipeline started transporting oil in October and 100% of the pipeline’s contractible capacity is locked under long-term contracts.

MPC is expected to renew contracts with MPLX to ship crude on its pipelines as they mature over time but it is not expected to commit incremental capital to duplicate systems that already exist, CFO Pamela Beall said on an earnings call with analysts.

The 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) Whistler natural gas pipeline project is expected to be in service in second-half 2021.

On NGL, the company said it expected higher prices to provide an indirect benefit to earnings.

"Rising NGL prices will have an indirect benefit, providing an incentive for producers to shift drilling to rich gas areas where our processing and fractionation infrastructure can be more highly utilized," Beall said.

MPLX shares were up 1.7% at $23.68 in morning trade.