Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC (“Tumbleweed”) today announced it has acquired the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System from DCP Midstream, LP (NYSE: DCP). The plant is located just west of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, near the Colorado-Kansas border. The Ladder Creek system is supported by long-term acreage dedications across a 1,000-square-mile area that spans Cheyenne, Kit Carson and Kiowa counties in Colorado and Hamilton, Greeley, Wichita, Kearney, Wallace and Finney counties in Kansas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. See system map here.
The Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System serves natural gas producers operating in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, which includes the Morrow, Mississippian, Spergen, Chester and Marmaton formations. The natural gas produced in the region has a high helium content, with average concentrations as high as three percent. The plant was built in 1997 by Union Pacific Resources (“Union Pacific”) to separate helium from the natural gas stream and liquefy it for transport to market. DCP Midstream acquired the Ladder Creek system from Union Pacific in 1999.
Tumbleweed Midstream was established in 2019 to focus on the acquisition, operation and growth of the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System. The company is supported by capital commitments from management and Tumbleweed’s founders.
Tumbleweed is led by CEO Durell Johnson, who has a unique history with the Ladder Creek plant. He served Union Pacific as the plant’s project engineer and project manager from 1997 to 1999. In this role Mr. Johnson hired and trained all employees, commissioned the plant in 1997 and managed operations until the plant was sold to DCP. Mr. Johnson started his 35-year career in the energy industry as a reservoir engineer with Exxon in Corpus Christi, Texas. Some of his more recent positions include director of engineering for Energy Transfer Company; vice president of engineering and operations for Regency Gas Services; vice president of engineering and operations for Clear Springs Energy; and senior vice president of engineering and operations for Stakeholder Midstream.
The Ladder Creek Helium Plant Current processing capacity at the Ladder Creek cryogenic processing plant is 40 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (MMcf/d), expandable to 50 MMcf/d. The plant has the capacity to extract and liquefy 1.5 MMcf/d of helium, with extraction and liquefaction to purity levels of 99.999 percent. The plant also produces NGLs and residue gas. NGLs are transported via pipeline to the DCP Wattenberg pipeline for transportation to Conway, Kansas, for fractionation. Residue gas is sent via pipeline to CIG Rockies or to regional producers for use as fuel.
“The acquisition of the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System represents a significant opportunity for Tumbleweed Midstream,” said Tumbleweed CEO Durell Johnson. “The U.S. is the world’s largest helium producer. At the same time, the world supply of helium is suffering from a multiyear shortfall. This has boosted prices for natural gas with a high helium content and has begun to raise red flags in industries that depend on helium. The growth of Ladder Creek’s helium operations starts with delivering our current customers superior economics with the highest level of service. The helium is there, it’s highly valuable and by extracting it Tumbleweed can return premium netbacks to the producers in the region.”
Helium is used in cryogenics, MRI machines, welding, deep sea diving, manufacturing of fiber optic cables and semiconductors, and retail sales of helium-filled balloons.
Ladder Creek Gathering System The gathering and distribution infrastructure associated with the Ladder Creek system includes approximately 730 miles of pipeline, divided as follows:
190 miles of FERC-regulated interstate pipeline;
23 miles of residue gas pipeline;
15 miles of pipeline to carry fuel gas back to producers;
42 miles of NGL pipeline;
460 miles of gas gathering pipeline; and
10 compressor stations.
About Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC is a privately held, independent natural gas gathering and processing company whose primary business is focused on the separation and production of liquefied helium, NGLs and residue gas from the incoming gas stream as well as the purification and liquefaction of crude helium from third parties. The company’s operations are centered at the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System located near Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, just west of the Kansas-Colorado border. Tumbleweed Midstream is supported by capital commitments from the company’s management team and founders. For more information, please visit tumbleweedmidstream.com.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has thrown out a permit needed by developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build a natural gas compressor station in a historic African American community in Virginia.
The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for opponents of a proposal to build the station in Union Hill, an unincorporated community that was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.
Lead developer Dominion Energy said the compressor station would have far fewer air emissions and more air control monitoring than any other station in the country. But opponents argued that the State Air Pollution Control Board and Dominion did not carefully consider the project’s potential health effects on Union Hill residents.
During oral arguments before the 4th Circuit in October, lawyers for opponents of the project said the state failed to consider the “unequal treatment” of people who live near the proposed site for the compressor station. Opponents said they were concerned that exhaust from the station could cause harmful health effects on nearby residents, most of whom are African American.
Union Hill is in rural Buckingham County, about an hour’s drive west of Richmond.
During the October hearing, Deputy Solicitor General Martine Cicconi said the Air Pollution Control Board “absolutely grappled” with the issue of environmental justice and carefully considered any adverse health impacts on residents. She said the emissions will fall well below emissions from other compressor stations in Virginia and will meet national ambient air quality standards.
The pipeline, which would run 600 miles (965 kilometers) and carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina, has been mired in legal challenges by environmental and conservation groups. Construction has been halted since December 2018.
In its written ruling, the three-judge panel said it agreed with opponents that the board failed to assess the station’s potential for disproportionate health effects on the community of Union Hill. The panel also said it agreed that the board failed to consider electric turbines as zero-emission alternatives to gas-fired turbines in the compressor station.
The 4th Circuit panel sent the case back to the Air Pollution Control Board.
Dominion said it will immediately begin working with the state to resolve the issues identified by the court.
Chesapeake Utilities has announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an order approving the Company’s proposed Del-Mar Energy Pathway Project.
The order, which was applied for in September of 2018 by Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company, Chesapeake Utilities’ interstate natural gas transmission subsidiary, approves the construction and operation of new infrastructure facilities in Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware, and Wicomico and Somerset counties in Maryland.
The project will add approximately 12 miles of natural gas infrastructure in Kent and Sussex counties and nearly seven miles of infrastructure in Wicomico and Somerset counties. Construction of the Del-Mar Energy Pathway Project is expected to commence within the first quarter of 2020. The estimated completion date will be the fourth quarter of 2021.
According to a recent study from the Regional Economic Studies Institute of Towson University, the infrastructure project would bring the following economic benefits to the region:
Direct employment – individuals who are directly associated with the construction project
In-direct employment – companies that benefit from increased demand and sales of their local services
Induced employment – increased revenue for local employers and more discretionary spending for local residents
“The FERC’s approval enables our Company to continue to meet the growing customer demand for natural gas service in the region,” said Jeff Tietbohl, Vice President of Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company. “This project further expands our partnership in the local communities in which we live and work, bringing natural gas service to Somerset County for the first time.”
Once in service, the new natural gas infrastructure will provide approximately 11.8 million cubic feet per day of additional natural gas firm transportation service and 2.5 million cubic feet of off-peak transportation service to Chesapeake Utilities’ natural gas distribution subsidiaries on the Delmarva Peninsula and one industrial customer.
The estimated cost of the project is approximately $37 million.
PIPELINE PROJECT SPOTLIGHT
Phillips 66, Bridger Pipeline
Project includes construction of an oil pipeline from the Bakken and Rockies production areas to Corpus Christi, TX
Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have been very vocal about their efforts to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. But as the Wall Street Journal and Gizmodo have reported, these same companies are currently teaming up with the fossil fuel industry to help them squeeze as much oil and gas out of the ground as possible.
Oil has always been hard to find and hard to extract, and so the industry has teetered precariously on the edge of profitability several times throughout its history. Over and over again, experts have predicted that we’ll soon run out of accessible, affordable oil — but so far, they’ve been wrong. Just when things look bleakest for black gold, new technology swoops in to keep the industry afloat.
In the early days, that technology came in the form of better drills and pumps. As we explain in the video above, today’s technological savior is artificial intelligence. Computer algorithms that perpetually improve themselves can automate the discovery of new reserves and streamline fossil fuel extraction — a big boost for companies that now have to compete with wind and solar.
In 2018, the oil and gas industries spent an estimated $1.75 billion on AI — a sum that is projected to balloon to $4 billion by 2025. To get their piece of that pie, big tech companies are developing AI for oil companies, even as they publicly celebrate their sustainable initiatives.
We reached out to Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Total for comment on this piece. None of them responded.
Oil prices spiked after U.S. air strikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian commander, heightening geopolitical tensions.
Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed early on Friday in a U.S. air strike on their convoy at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon said
While equity markets turned lower, oil prices surged on news of Soleimani’s death, with global benchmark Brent crude shooting 3.02% higher to $68.25 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude jumping 2.75% to $62.86 per barrel.
News of the strikes came after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday there were indications Iran or forces it backs may be planning additional attacks after Iranian-backed demonstrators hurled rocks at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad following American strikes on Sunday against bases of the Tehran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group.
Esper warned that the “game has changed” and it was possible the United States might have to take preemptive action to protect American lives.
In currency markets, the dollar weakened as investors snapped up safe-haven Japanese yen but was flat against the Euro. The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.09% at 96.758.
U.S. energy regulators approved Tellurian’s request to start site preparation work at its proposed $27.5 billion Driftwood LNG export project in Louisiana.The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said Driftwood could start vegetation clearing and grading, demolition and removal of existing buildings, and dredging of marine berths, among other activities.
The company plans to source natural gas from the Permian Basin to Driftwood via its proposed Permian Global Access Pipeline (PGAP), Tellurian said drew strong interest during an open season from West Texas natural gas producers seeking delivery to the rapidly growing natural gas market in Southeast Louisiana.
The $3.7 billion PGAP is a proposed 625-mile, 42-inch interstate natural gas pipeline originating at the Waha Hub in Pecos County, Texas, and terminating at Gillis, Louisiana, north of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Construction could begin as early as 2021, and the project could begin service as early as 2023 with a capacity of 2 Bcf/d.
PGAP is one of three proposed pipelines that would comprise the estimated $7.3 billion Tellurian Pipeline Network, which is integral to its planned $15.2 billion Driftwood LNG export project near Lake Charles.
The pipeline network also includes the proposed Haynesville Global Access Pipeline (HGAP) and the Driftwood Pipeline. HGAP would be a 200-mile, 42-inch pipeline with capacity to transport 2 Bcf/d to the same interstate pipelines near Gillis. The 96-mile, 48-inch Driftwood Pipeline would provide 4 Bcf/d transport from Gillis to the Driftwood LNG facility.
“With FERC’s approval, we are doing some preliminary work on the site,” Tellurian spokeswoman Joi Lecznar said in an email, noting “we have progressed to completing over 27% of our engineering, and we have ordered some equipment in order to prepare for construction.”
Driftwood is designed to produce 27.6 mtpa of LNG or about 3.6 Bcf/d of natural gas. Tellurian has said it plans to start building the liquefaction plant in early 2020 and produce the first LNG from the facility in 2023.
Driftwood is one of about a dozen LNG export projects in North America that said they could decide to build their plants in 2020. Together those plants, which analysts said will not all be built, would produce over 160 mtpa of LNG.
Several of those projects, including Driftwood, had previously said they could make that final investment decision in 2019.
The U.S.-China trade war and a global oversupply of the fuel that caused gas prices in Europe and Asia to fall made it difficult for several LNG developers to sign enough long-term customer agreements this year. Those agreements are needed to secure financing for their billion dollar projects.
Total world demand for LNG reached a record 316 mtpa in 2018 and is projected to soar by around 100 mtpa by 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Unlike most proposed U.S. LNG export projects that will liquefy gas for a fee, Tellurian is offering customers the opportunity to invest in a full range of services from production to pipelines and liquefaction.
(Reuters) — The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday approved the construction of four proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in Texas totaling about 6.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of capacity.
The projects are NextDecade Corp’s (NEXT.O) 3.6-bcfd Rio Grande, Cheniere Energy Inc’s (LNG.A) 1.5-bcfd Corpus Christi Midscale, Exelon Corp’s (EXC.O) 0.8-bcfd Annova LNG Brownsville and Texas LNG’s 0.3-bcfd Brownsville.
One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
“The Commission has now completed its work on applications for 11 LNG export projects in the past nine months, helping the United States expand the availability of natural gas for our global allies who need access to an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly fuel for power generation,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in a release.
The three Brownsville proposals (Rio Grande is a Brownsville plant) are to build greenfield projects along the Brownsville Ship Channel to receive gas from the nearby Permian and Eagle Ford shale basins and have faced concerns from environment and safety advocates.
To gain approval, the Brownsville projects have taken steps like pledging land for the preservation of endangered big cats – jaguarundis and ocelots – that live in the South Texas area.
All four of the projects approved Thursday have applications pending before the U.S. Department of Energy seeking authorization to export gas to countries without free trade agreements with the United States, FERC said.
They are just four of more than four dozen LNG export projects under development in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Including the projects under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 6.9 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 9.6 bcfd by the end of 2020 from 6.8 bcfd now.
That keeps the United States on track to become the third biggest LNG exporter in the world in 2019, behind Qatar and Australia, and the biggest supplier of the fuel in 2024.
So far this year, FERC has approved projects proposed by Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC; Driftwood LNG LLC; Port Arthur LNG LLC; Gulf LNG; Eagle LNG Partners Jacksonville LLC; Venture Global Plaquemines LNG LLC; and Freeport LNG’s Train 4 Expansion Project.
In addition, FERC said four projects are now pending before the
MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge Inc. said Monday that it retrieved a 45-foot steel rod that was resting against an underwater oil pipeline where lakes Michigan and Huron converge.
The debris had been at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac since September, when aborehole collapsedduring geotechnical work in advance of the construction of a tunnel to surround the Line 5 pipes. Enbridge deployed a remote-operated vehicle to remove the rod on Saturday night, said spokesman Ryan Duffy.
“Favorable weather conditions at the Straits in recent weeks prevented the water from icing over, providing Enbridge a window of opportunity to complete this work,” he said.
The rod had moved from its original position near the pipeline and was found resting on the west leg. It never posed a safety or environmental risk to Line 5, the water or ship traffic, Duffy said.
Enbridge Energy had been collecting rock and soil samples, which it finished Sept. 12 thePetosky News-Reviewreported. But the company did not report the incident to Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy until Nov. 19, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.
The collapse also caused a long piece of drill rod to become lodged beneath the lake bed, and a piece of the equipment to fall on top of the lake bed.
The tunnel would enclose the Straits of Mackinac’s portion of the 66-year-old pipeline, which is also known as Enbridge Line 5. It runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Ryan Duffy, Enbridge spokesman, said the two-months span between the date of the incident and the report were spent determining the best way forward.
PIPELINE PROJECT SPOTLIGHT
Phillips 66, Bridger Pipeline
Project includes construction of an oil pipeline from the Bakken and Rockies production areas to Corpus Christi, TX
The Associated Press has learned that the FBI has opened an investigation into the process by which Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration issued construction permits for the Mariner East Pipeline project.
All three spoke on condition of anonymity because they said they could not speak publicly about the investigation.
The focus of the agents’ questions involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether Wolf and his administration pressured environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, those people say.
The Mariner East pipelines are owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer LP and the construction is estimated to cost $3 billion. Energy Transfer says it is the largest investment of private money in Pennsylvania history.
Wolf’s administration declined comment on the investigation Tuesday. In the past, Wolf and his administration have said the permits contained strong environmental protections and that the Department of Environmental Protection wasn’t forced to issue the permits.
An Energy Transfer spokeswoman said the company had not been contacted by the FBI about the Mariner East.
The chief federal prosecutor in Harrisburg, PA, U.S. Attorney David Freed, declined comment.
Wolf has said that the pipeline’s economic benefits would outweigh the potential environmental harm, and that the Mariner East would be part of a distribution system that the industry needed.
The state’s building trades unions have seen a huge influx of work on the Mariner East pipelines and Marcus Hook. Exploration firms drilling in the booming Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale fields shipping natural gas liquids through Mariner East pipelines and Marcus Hook have helped the U.S. become the world’s leading ethane exporter.
The roughly 300-mile (480-kilometer) Mariner East 1 was originally built in the 1930s to transport gasoline westward from Marcus Hook. It was renovated and, in 2014, began carrying natural gas liquids eastward to the refinery from southwestern Pennsylvania’s drilling fields.
Construction permit applications were submitted in 2015 for two wider pipelines, the 350-mile-long (563-kilometer) Mariner East 2 and 2x, designed for the same purpose, but stretching farther, through West Virginia’s northern panhandle and into Ohio.
Both were projected to be open in 2017. But Mariner East 2 began operating in late December, and Mariner East 2X could be complete in 2020.
Residents of neighborhoods near the planned route have expressed safety concerns about the pipeline.
County and state prosecutors are also investigating the pipeline.
Chester County’s district attorney, Tom Hogan, opened an investigation last December. In March, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, said his office had opened an investigation on a referral from Delaware County’s district attorney.
At the time the permits were issued, Wolf denied applying pressure to approve the pipeline permits. Rather, he said he had simply insisted the department stick to its own timeline to consider them and that he believed the department had done its due diligence.
Requests from environmental opposition groups to halt construction was denied, but they did win additional protective steps in a settlement.
In depositions and internal documents that became exhibits in the appeal, department employees said the schedule to consider the applications had been sped up, but none said they had been forced to approve permits over their objections.
NEW YORK (Reuters) — BP Midstream Partners LP is considering expanding its Mars crude oil pipeline to accommodate new volumes from offshore oil fields, Chief Financial Officer Craig Coburn said on Tuesday.
The Mars pipeline, which has a mainline capacity of about 400,000 bpd, would potentially be expanded to ship increased crude volumes from Gulf of Mexico fields such as Vito and Power Nap, Coburn told analysts and investors on the company’s third quarter earnings call.
More details about any plans will be given early next year, Coburn said. BPMP owns a 28.5% interest in Mars, according to its website.
BP Midstream’s total third quarter pipeline gross throughput was more than 1.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, slightly lower than the previous quarter, Coburn said.
The decline was due, in part, to disruptions in service caused by Hurricane Barry in July.
Caesar, a crude oil pipeline, Cleopatra, which carries natural gas, and the Ursa oil pipeline all reported lower throughput for the quarter due to the hurricane and maintenance activity by offshore producers, Coburn said.
The gross throughput impact of Barry was approximately 100,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent, he added.
Offsetting the disruptions was record throughput on the BP 2 pipeline, Coburn said. He said throughput on the pipeline during the third quarter was a record 316,000 barrels per day, the highest achieved on BP 2 since its initial public offering.
“We expect pipeline gross throughput in the fourth quarter to be higher than first quarter,” Coburn said.