Blue Racer can double production

KENT, W.Va. – More fractionation and de-ethanization is online in Marshall County’s Marcellus and Utica shale field, as Blue Racer Midstream can process 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day at the Natrium facility along state Route 2.

The Blue Racer system features pipelines that carry natural gas under the Ohio River from the Buckeye State for processing at Natrium.

“Our assets are positioned exactly where our producers need them so that ultimately they achieve the best possible price realizations,” Jack Lafield, CEO of Blue Racer, said. “The Utica is a complex play with tremendous potential. Utica producers face a number of challenges, and we continue to build out a very large supersystem in the Utica to assist them.”

Dominion Resources developed the Natrium plant, while the full-time workers at Natrium are considered Dominion employees. However, Blue Racer now owns the facility as part of a $1.5 billion deal between Dominion and Caiman Energy.

Upon separation from the gas stream, the propane and butane are kept in tanks on the Natrium site to be marketed. This cannot be done with ethane because of the product’s volatility.

According to the company, Blue Racer’s ethane pipeline provides direct access to the Enterprise ATEX Pipeline, which sends ethane to the Gulf Coast. New pipeline infrastructure leading out of Natrium will connect to Sunoco’s Mariner West pipeline, which carries ethane to Ontario, Canada for cracking at the Nova Chemicals Corunna petrochemical facility at Sarnia.

The original portion of the Blue Racer plant reopened in January after it was closed as a result of a Sept. 21 fire. State Route 2 near the Marshall and Wetzel county line was closed for nearly eight hours as the fire burned. About 25 residents in the Kent area north of the plant were evacuated as a safety precaution.

Blue Racer spokeswoman Casey Nikoloric said the Sept. 21 fire occurred when vapors formed a cloud that was “ignited by an unknown source.”

“Our central focus has been on preventing the release of natural gas vapors in the future. Certain equipment damaged in the incident has been replaced, repaired or upgraded, additional safety measures have been added, including the new alarm system, and employees at the facility have been given additional training on how to handle emergency situations,” she said.

Motorists and residents can now expect to see occasional flaring of natural gas liquids from the Natrium plant, as officials use a flare to reduce the risk of an explosion. The company is also using an alert system to advise nearby residents of any emergency situations.