Enterprise eyes expansion of gas-processing plant near Meeker

Enterprise Gas Processing is pursuing permitting for a two-phase expansion of its Meeker-area facility that would result in one of the largest gas plants in the country.

However, the plan is simply conceptual at this point, said Rick Ranney, a spokesman for Enterprise Products Partners L.P., of which Enterprise Gas Processing is a subsidiary.

“At this point there are no firm plans” to build it, Ranney said.

The Bureau of Land Management has released an environmental assessment on a proposal by Enterprise to add two more processing facilities at its Meeker Gas Plant about 20 miles southwest of Meeker.

“The Proposed Action would increase the ability of the existing Meeker Gas Plant to provide natural gas processing that would accommodate the projected future volumes of natural gas from the Western Slope of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region,” the BLM document says.

Ranney said Enterprise is going through the permitting process so approvals will be in place if it decides to build the expansion. Typically it negotiates contracts with energy producers to provide gas processing capacity before building infrastructure, he said.

The original gas plant project was undertaken by Encana USA and sold to Enterprise, which built it in two phases in 2006–07. Facilities referred to as Meeker I and Meeker II each can process 750 million cubic feet per day. Combined, they also can produce 70,000 barrels of natural gas liquids such as propane and ethane per day, and currently are producing about 55,000 barrels per day.

Each of the new processing units could process another 350 million cubic feet per day. Together, they also could process another 55,000 barrels of natural gas liquids.

The facilities would be built one at a time, with each taking about 18 months to complete. Enterprise is estimating that the construction workforce for each facility would vary from 50 to 150 workers during different phases of each project.

Permanent employment would increase from 40 now to about 50 if both units are built, Enterprise says.

In September, the BLM approved construction of Enterprise subsidiary Mid-America Pipeline’s 95-mile Western Expansion Project II pipeline, which will increase Enterprise’s capacity for transporting natural gas liquids from Wyoming and Colorado to Hobbs, N.M., and then on to facilities that can separate out each liquid.

That project is expected to start around year’s end, take about six months to complete and involve about 400 to 450 workers.

Ranney said that expansion is needed to meet current energy production needs in the region.

While energy production in the region is cyclical, based on price, “it’s prudent right now” to make sure permitting is inplace for Enterprise to be able to ramp up its processing capability without delays if companies increase production, he said.

Enterprise is proposing expanding its gas plant by about 43 acres on public land off Rio Blanco County Road 83, which branches off County Road 5. Nearly a fifth of the expansion would be on land Enterprise already is using, based on permits obtained in 2009.

The company is committing to making a one-time payment of $77,400 to Colorado Parks and Wildlife to improve 2.5 acres of off-site habitat for each acre disrupted by the expansion. The financial commitment would cover both the existing plant facilities and the expansion area. The expansion would be in an area used by deer during severe winter conditions.

Enterprise last year paid nearly $7.8 million in 2010 property taxes going to school, hospital, county and other purposes. Rio Blanco County estimates $5.3 million in annual property tax revenues would result from the expansion.

More information on the proposal is available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo/index.html. The BLM is accepting public comments, and asks that they be submitted by Dec. 5. They can be sent to the White River Field Office, 220 E. Market St., Meeker, CO 81641; or emailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Questions may be directed to Janet Doll, 970 878-3803.


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