Parachute natural gas plant expansion delayed

A planned expansion of its natural gas-processing plant in Parachute won’t be complete as early as Williams Midstream had hoped, but the project eventually will lead to greater production of the gas liquids that have buoyed Piceance Basin production.

Instead of completing the expansion in October 2013, Williams Midstream — the company that processes and transports gas after it’s been collected from wells — now is looking to a June 2014 completion date, spokeswoman Donna Gray said.

“It’s partly about natural gas prices being down, but we negotiated a later startup so we will have all the equipment we need on time,” Gray said. “We slowed down the pace of construction.”

Natural gas prices finished the week down 3.6 percent.

The expansion, however, is pegged not so much to the price of natural gas as to the value of the liquids that accompany gas when it’s released from deep below the earth.

Called “wet gas,” natural gas from the Piceance Basin needs to be stripped of those liquids both to better transport methane through pipelines and to take the cream of the liquids’ products to more lucrative markets.

The main feature of the expansion is a cryogenic plant, which will reduce the temperature to 150 degrees below zero, far colder than the existing plant’s coldest temperature of 20 degrees below zero.

The colder temperature “will allow us take a larger cut of those liquids,” Gray said.

Expansion of the plans will allow it to increase production of liquids from 6,000 barrels a day currently to 25,000 barrels a day.

Among the liquids removed during the cooling are propane and ethane, which is a feedstock in the production of petrochemicals.


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