Blue Racer Midstream: The Veins at the Heart of the Utica Shale

Blue Racer Midstream is a pipeline and processing plant company–a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion Energy–that owns several natural gas processing and fractionation plants, 570 miles of natgas gathering pipelines, and 151 miles of NGL and condensate pipelines in OH and WV. The company’s primary focus from the beginning has been on handling and processing “wet gas” in eastern OH, northern WV and western PA. Blue Racer processes and transports NGLs (natural gas liquids) to market by all means possible–pipeline, rail and yes, even barge (see Blue Racer Barges NGLs to Gulf Coast on the Ohio River). One of the NGLs, ethane, plays a big role for Blue Racer–present and future. It’s time for an update on Blue Racer Midstream, the veins at the heart of the Utica Shale…
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FERC Rejects Blue Racer Midstream Plan to Change NGL Pipe Rates

We have to confess this story is a bit complex to understand. We will take a stab at making the complex understandable. Blue Racer Midstream has a subsidiary called Blue Racer NGL Pipelines LLC. The subsidiary operates the G-150 pipeline system, which provides batched propane and butane service. G-150 currently, located in West Virginia, connects a Natrium, WV processing plant to the TE Products Pipeline Co. (TEPPCO). The G-150 pipeline will also have a connection to the Mariner East 2 Pipeline when it goes into service, theoretically in June of this year. Currently the G-150 is flowing about 6,300 barrels per day of product through it–only 20% of its capacity. When the connection with ME2 is up and running, Blue Racer says it can handle 30,000 bbl/d through the G-150. However, Blue Racer itself signed up for most of the capacity (27,000 bbl/d). Blue Racer recently asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to allow it to have two different rate structures–a lower rate for “committed” shippers (Blue Racer itself with its 27,000 bbl/d) and a higher rate for uncommitted shippers. FERC rejected the request pointing out that existing shippers with contracts–namely Chesapeake Energy–would be left out in the cold in favor of Blue Racer moving its own volumes at lower prices. Yes, it’s complicated. Bottom line, Blue Racer can’t do what it wants and has to go back to the drawing board…
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Blue Racer Barges NGLs to Gulf Coast on the Ohio River

Blue Racer Midstream logoThis post will not make anti-fossil fuel nutters happy. You know how antis have moaned and groaned at the prospect of allowing barges on the Ohio River to transport produced water–naturally-occurring salty water that comes out of the ground long after fracking operations are over. Antis complained so much that the Obama Administration politically prevented the Coast Guard from moving forward with a barging plan (see Coast Guard Caves to Political Pressure, No Wastewater Barging). The “funny” thing is, there are substances 100 times more toxic than produced water traveling on barges up and down the Ohio every day! But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good [drug-induced hippie] protest, right? In June we brought you the story that Blue Racer Midstream, a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion that owns several natural gas processing and fractionation plants, 650 miles of natgas gathering pipelines, and 155 miles of NGL and condensate pipelines in OH and WV, is planning to barge NGLs (natural gas liquids) from their facilities in WV down the Ohio River to the Gulf Coast (see Blue Racer Midstream to Begin Barging on Ohio River This Year!). The exciting news is that Blue Racer began their NGL barging program in October…
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Blue Racer Midstream to Begin Barging on Ohio River This Year!

Ohio River bargeIt will be fun to watch how anti-fossil fuelers will take this news–and attempt to spin and demagogue it. Blue Racer Midstream, a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion, owns several natural gas processing and fractionation plants, 650 miles of natgas gathering pipelines, and 155 miles of NGL and condensate pipelines in OH and WV. Blue Racer is a privately-held company, so we don’t have SEC reports and public statements about the company. However, every now again Blue Racer’s upper management shows up at an industry conference, as they did a few weeks ago at the Utica Midstream Seminar in Canton, OH (see Updates on 3 Major OH Pipelines at Utica Midstream Seminar). At the event, Blue Racer CEO Stephen Arata confirmed that in the third quarter of this year the company will begin to use barges on the Ohio River to transport “products” from its Natrium, WV processing plant…
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OH Man Blames Pipeline Construction for Driving his Car into Ditch

Blue Racer MidstreamA Washington County, OH man is not happy with Blue Racer Midstream’s construction work on a new pipeline in the area. Heavy rain washed out gravel used as fill for the project. The man was on his way home (rural area) and ran into a ditch because, he says, the work was not done well and is “destroying” area roadways. Here’s the story of a man, a car, a ditch and a rainy night…
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Blue Racer Midstream: Keeping a Sharp Eye on the Bottom Line

Blue Racer Midstream is a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion. It is a privately-held company, so we don’t have SEC reports and public statements about the company from which to gage how it’s doing. However, every now again Blue Racer’s upper management shows up at an industry conference. Last week Blue Racer’s relatively new CEO, Stephen Arata, spoke at the Hart Energy Marcellus-Utica Midstream event in Pittsburgh. It’s no surprise that Arata said the company has had to curb spending and growth, giving the downturn in oil and natgas prices…
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Blue Racer Midstream CEO Says Utica Shale Better than Marcellus

In April 2015, Stephen Arata, then Chief Financial Officer for Blue Racer Midstream, became the CEO of Blue Racer (see Blue Racer Midstream CFO Promoted over President to Become CEO). While Blue Racer operates in both the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays, it is the Utica that’s turned Mr. Arata’s head and is the focus of Blue Racer’s operations. In an article published in the July issue of The American Oil & Gas Reporter titled “Midstream Adjusts For Emerging Utica,” Mr. Arata makes this prediction about the Utica: “Arata predicts development of the Utica is about to take off. ‘The rock in the Utica is great,’ he enthuses. ‘The core of the rich part of the Utica is better than anything in the southwestern Pennsylvania Marcellus. People will be surprised how fast the Utica develops.'” Arata makes a number of boasts about Blue Racer, including the claim they are the only midstream company that can get “rich gas” out of Washington County, PA. Give this excellent article (with a number of Arata brags) a read…
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Blue Racer Midstream Looks to Raise Another $300M from IOUs

Last November Blue Racer Midstream–the pipeline and processing plant company formed in 2012 as a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion and focused totally on the Marcellus and Utica Shale region–floated IOUs (called senior notes) due and payable in 2022 for $550 million. Must be nice to write out an IOU and get big bucks. Blue Racer is back for more. The company announced yesterday they’re floating another round of IOUs due payable in 2022 in an effort to raise another $300 million…
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Blue Racer Brings OH Processing Plant Online, Continues to Expand

Blue Racer Midstream, a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion, shared the good news yesterday that a second 200 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) cryogenic processing plant at its Berne Natural Gas Processing Complex in Monroe County, OH (known as Berne II, yes, they name these things) is now online and operating. Berne II doubles the processing capacity at the plant. Blue Racer also operates a processing AND fractionation complex in Natrium, WV. A 30-mile Y-grade (NGL) pipeline connects the two facilities so that Berne can send along its NGLs to Natrium for further processing. Fractionaters like those in Natrium separate NGLs into their component hydrocarbons, including ethane, butane, propane, etc. In addition to Berne II going online, Blue Racer gave us a general update on the expanding health of their operation: They have 14 long-term major Marcellus/Utica drilling customers; 650 miles of gathering pipelines in OH and WV with another 200 miles of new gathering lines under construction; and gathered volumes have doubled, and processed volumes have tripled in just the last year…
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Blue Racer Midstream CFO Promoted over President to Become CEO

Some changes at the top of Blue Racer Midstream–the pipeline and processing plant company formed in 2012 as a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion and focused totally on the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. Jack Lafield, founder and CEO of Caiman Energy (sold to Williams for $2.5 billion) and current CEO of Caiman Energy II and Blue Racer, has stepped down as CEO of both companies. Lafield will continue to serve as chairman of the board for Caiman Energy II and remains a member of the board for Blue Racer. In his place Stephen Arata, CFO for both companies, has been named CEO for both Caiman Energy II and Blue Racer Midstream. Although the announcement that Lafield is “retiring” from his post as CEO of both Caiman and Blue Racer as of today (see below), the official biography for Arata on the Blue Racer website says the transition became effective on April 1st–not sure why there is a discrepancy. What’s equally intriguing (to MDN) is that Caiman/Blue Racer’s current president and COO, Rick Moncrief, was not promoted to the top spot and instead Arata, the CFO, was–which is not the typical succession path…
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Dominion Says Their Pipelines Gather 80% of All Ohio Natural Gas

The Guernsey County Energy Coalition heard from utility and midstream giant Dominion last week at their regular meeting in Cambridge, OH. Mack Smith Jr., Dominion’s manager of commercial gas services, had some fascinating things to say. One of them was this: “Dominion gathers about 80 percent of all Ohio gas and interconnects with seven major pipelines to distribute gas to markets, and to sell storage services to marketers and end users.” Did you know that Dominion gathers 80% of all Ohio natural gas? We sure didn’t! Here’s some more pickings from what Smith said last Thursday…
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Blue Racer Shelves Plans for Mahoning, OH Wet Gas Plant

It was only last August that Blue Racer said they would build a new $70 million wet gas processing plant in Mahoning County, OH (see Blue Racer to Build New Wet Gas Plant in Mahoning County, OH). A Blue Racer Midstream executive backpedaled last Thursday at the Marcellus-Utica Midstream conference and said those plans are now shelved, indefinitiely. Why? That part of the shale play “hasn’t panned out yet” for the company…
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Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conf: $30B of NE Infrastructure Needed

more more moreDay two, and the concluding day at the Hart Energy Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference in Pittsburgh, proved as interesting as the first day (for a day one recap, see Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conf: Marcellus is “Best of the Best”). One of the speakers on day two was Scott Williams, executive VP and chief commercial officer for Blue Racer Midstream, who spoke about his company’s processing plants in the northeast. Blue Racer’s Natrium, WV plant connects to Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner West ethane pipeline, which carts Blue Racer’s ethane to Sarnia, Ontario (Canada) and the Nova Chemicals Corunna ethane cracker. Blue Racer also operates the Berne processing plant in Monroe County, OH. According to Williams, “in excess of $30 billion worth of infrastructure still needs to be built” in the northeast. Wow! That should keep a variety of companies busy for a while. A VP from midstream giant Williams (which recently bought out Access Midstream) agrees…
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Was the Blue Racer Accident in Noble County, OH Preventable?

preventionNearly two weeks ago there was a fatal accident at a Blue Racer Midstream condensate pumping skid in Noble County, OH in which an electrical contract worker was killed (see Blue Racer Midstream Explosion Kills One Worker in OH). There was precious little information about the accident–what caused it–at the time. And since then, we’ve spotted nothing. We know it takes time to investigate such things, but usually there is at least an update or two during that period. We did, however, spot a letter to the editor from a veteran oilfield petroleum engineer who claims the accident was preventable. Since this engineer doesn’t work in the northeast and has no personal knowledge of the accident, we thought it was a pretty brash statement to make. Or was it?…
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Blue Racer Midstream Explosion Kills One Worker in OH

There was an explosion and fire at a Blue Racer Midstream condensate pumping skid (equipment that moves natural gas liquids through the stabilizer process) in Noble County, OH. An electrical contract worker from Virginia, Norman Butler (48 years old), sadly, was killed. The pump station is located next to a CONSOL Energy drill pad in northwest Marion Township, about 50 miles west of Wheeling, WV, between Interstates 70 and 77. A CONSOL spokesperson said none of the equipment at their site was affected and everything has been shut-in for now…
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Blue Racer Condensate Pipeline Ruptures/Burns in Monroe County, OH

A Blue Racer Midstream condensate pipeline caught fire early Tuesday morning near Cameron (eastern part of Monroe County, OH). Condensate is lighter than crude oil but heavier than natural gas liquids. Think of it as really light oil. Blue Racer’s condensate pipeline runs from Utica wells in eastern Ohio to Blue Racer’s processing plant in Natrium, WV. According to officials, the rupture in the 8-inch pipeline burned for several hours and burned several acres of surrounding woods before burning itself out. Fortunately it was a remote area where the accident occurred and no one was injured…
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