Dominion transfers Natrium assets to joint venture - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Dominion transfers Natrium assets to joint venture

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As a major expansion is underway, Dominion Resources has transferred its natural gas processing and gas liquids fractionation plant in Marshall County to a joint venture it is part of.

On Aug. 12, Blue Racer Midstream LLC said it had become the owner and operator of the plant at Natrium, along the Ohio River near the Wetzel County line.

Dominion transferred the plant as part of its agreement with Caiman Energy LLC. Dominion and Caiman are co-owners of Blue Racer Midstream, which was formed to provide mid-stream services to rich-gas producers in the Utica and Marcellus shale regions.

The Natrium plant was the first large-scale processing plant to serve the Utica and Marcellus regions. It has cryogenic processing capacity of 200 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) online. Construction has begun on a second 200 MMcf/d processing plant at the site. The expansion is scheduled to be in operation by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

The liquids fractionation capacity at Natrium is 36,000 barrels per day (Bbls/d). Blue Racer has begun plans to increase fractionation capacity to at least 59,000 Bbls/d as drilling activity in the Utica expands. Additions to processing and fractionation capacity at the Natrium site will occur as producer needs for midstream services increase.

Casey Nikoloric, a spokeswoman for Blue Racer, said the fractionation expansion will focus on liquids from the Utica shale region, mainly in Ohio.

"The Utica Shale has tremendous potential to provide jobs and revenue for the people of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and we're excited about playing a role in that," Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the asset transfer.

"In recent months we have seen a rapid acceleration of drilling and permitting activity. Bringing Natrium online, transferring ownership to Blue Racer and initiating expansion plans are important milestones for Blue Racer, Utica producers and the region's economy."

Blue Racer CEO Jack Lafield added, "Our goal is to create the Utica Shale's premier midstream company."

Lafield also is chairman and CEO of Caiman Energy.

Formed in December 2012, Blue Racer Midstream is a $1.5 billion joint venture between Dominion and Caiman. Its services include gathering, processing, fractionation, and natural gas liquids transportation and marketing.

Dominion contributed existing midstream assets to Blue Racer including 500 miles of Dominion East Ohio gathering lines. Additional contributions of physical assets are expected in 2013 and 2014. Caiman's contribution includes up to $800 million in equity capital commitments and the experience and expertise required to manage and expand Blue Racer's asset base.

Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,000 megawatts of generation, 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,400 miles of electric transmission lines.  Dominion operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 15 states.

Caiman Energy is a midstream energy company focused on the design, construction, operation and acquisition of midstream assets. The company is currently focused on midstream projects in the Utica Shale and brings an initial $800 million in committed private equity capital to support the greenfield development of new gathering and processing assets in the Utica. Caiman's equity backers include EnCap Flatrock Midstream, Williams Partners L.P. and Highstar Capital.