We are a growth-oriented publicly-traded Delaware limited partnership, formed in 2005, engaged in the gathering, processing, contract compression and transportation of natural gas and NGLs. We provide these services through systems located in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and the mid-continent region of the United States, which includes Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Our midstream assets are located in historically well-established areas of natural gas production that have been characterized by long-lived, predictable reserves.
We divide our operations into four business segments: Gathering and Processing: We provide “wellhead-to-market” services to producers of natural gas, which include transporting raw natural gas from the wellhead through gathering systems, processing raw natural gas to separate NGLs and selling or delivering the pipeline-quality natural gas and NGLs to various markets and pipeline systems; Transportation: We own a 43 percent interest in HPC, which, through RIGS, delivers natural gas from northwest Louisiana to markets as well as downstream pipelines in northeast Louisiana through a 450 mile intrastate pipeline system; Contract Compression: We provide turn-key natural gas compression services whereby we guarantee our customers 98 percent mechanical availability of our compression units for land installations and 96 percent mechanical availability for over-water installations; and
Corporate and Others: We own and operate an interstate pipeline that consists of 10 miles of pipeline that extends from Harrison County, Texas to Caddo Parish, Louisiana. This pipeline has a FERC certificated capacity of 150 MMcf/d.
Subsequent to December 31, 2009, our Contract Compression segment placed in service approximately 3,000 revenue generating horsepower in Pennsylvania to compress natural gas in the Marcellus Shale and we are currently working with customers as to the timing of placing in service an additional revenue generating horsepower of approximately 4,000 in 2010.
General. The midstream natural gas industry is the link between exploration and production of raw natural gas and the delivery of its components to end-user markets. It consists of natural gas gathering, compression, dehydration, processing and treating, fractionation, and transportation. Raw natural gas produced from the wellhead is gathered and often delivered to a plant located near the production, where it is treated, dehydrated, and/or processed. Natural gas processing involves the separation of raw natural gas into pipeline quality natural gas, principally methane, and mixed NGLs. Natural gas treating entails the removal of impurities, such as water, sulfur compounds, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Pipeline-quality natural gas is delivered by interstate and intrastate pipelines to markets. Mixed NGLs are typically transported via NGL pipelines or by truck to fractionators, which separates the NGLs into their components, such as ethane, propane, normal butane, isobutane and natural gasoline. The NGL components are then sold to end users.
Gathering. A gathering system typically consists of a network of small diameter pipelines and, if necessary, a compression system which together collects natural gas from points near producing wells and transports it to processing or treating plants or larger diameter pipelines for further transportation.
Compression. Ideally-designed gathering systems are operated at pressures that maximize the total through-put volumes from all connected wells. Natural gas compression is a mechanical process in which a volume of gas at a lower pressure is boosted, or compressed, to a desired higher pressure, allowing the gas to flow into a higher pressure downstream pipeline to be transported to market. Since natural gas wells produce gas at progressively lower field pressures as they age, this raw natural gas must be compressed to deliver the remaining production at higher pressures in the existing connected gathering system. This field compression is typically used to lower the suction (entry) pressure, while maintaining or increasing the discharge (exit) pressure to the gathering system which allows the well production to flow at a lower receipt pressure while providing sufficient pressure to deliver gas into a higher pressure downstream pipeline.
Amine Treating. The amine treating process involves a continuous circulation of a liquid chemical called amine that physically contacts with the natural gas. Amine has a chemical affinity for hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide that allows it to absorb these impurities from the gas. After mixing in the contact vessel, the gas and amine are separated, and the impurities are removed from the amine by heating. The treating plants are sized according to the amine circulation rate in terms of GPM.
Processing. Natural gas processing involves the separation of natural gas into pipeline quality natural gas and a mixed NGL stream. The principal component of natural gas is methane, but most natural gas also contains varying amounts of heavier hydrocarbon components, or NGLs. Natural gas is described as lean or rich depending on its content of NGLs. Most natural gas produced by a well is not suitable for long-haul pipeline transportation or commercial use because it contains NGLs and impurities. Removal and separation of individual hydrocarbons by processing is possible because of differences in weight, boiling point, vapor pressure and other physical characteristics.
Fractionation. NGL fractionation facilities separate mixed NGL streams into discrete NGL products: ethane, propane, normal butane, isobutane and natural gasoline. Ethane is primarily used in the petrochemical industry as feedstock for ethylene, one of the basic building blocks for a wide range of plastics and other chemical products. Propane is used both as a petrochemical feedstock in the production of propylene and as a heating fuel, an engine fuel and an industrial fuel. Normal butane is used as a petrochemical feedstock in the production of butadiene (a key ingredient in synthetic rubber) and as a blend stock for motor gasoline. Isobutane is typically fractionated from mixed butane (a stream of normal butane and isobutane in solution), principally for use in enhancing the octane content of motor gasoline. Natural gasoline, a mixture of pentanes and heavier hydrocarbons, is used primarily as motor gasoline blend stock or petrochemical feedstock. We do not own or operate any NGL fractionation facilities.
Transportation. Natural gas transportation consists of moving pipeline-quality natural gas from gathering systems, processing or treating plants and other pipelines and delivering it to wholesalers, utilities and other pipelines.
Overview of U.S. market. The midstream industry is generally characterized by regional competition based on the proximity of gathering systems and processing plants to natural gas wells. Natural gas remains a critical component of energy consumption in the United States. According to the EIA, total annual production of natural gas is expected to increase 14 percent from 20.6 Tcf in 2008 to 23.3 Tcf in 2035. Natural gas production from shale formations is expected to grow to 6.0 Tcf by 2035, more than offsetting the decline in conventional production. EIA projects that natural gas and renewable power plants will account for the majority of electricity generation capacity addition by 2035.