Anadarko’s plant nears completion

COTULLA — The Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is close to opening a $100 million plant to process natural gas from its Eagle Ford Shale wells.

The Brasada Gas Processing Plant just south of Cotulla in La Salle County is part of a wave of midstream development in the Eagle Ford as companies build the gathering systems, pipelines and processing plants to move South Texas oil and gas to market.

The plant has about a month of construction to go, but should be operating by late May or early June, said Craig Collins, an Anadarko regional manager for commercial development.

It will separate natural gas liquids — methane, ethane, propane and butane — and have the capacity to process 200 million cubic feet of gas per day.

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The 150-acre facility off Interstate 35 will process only natural gas from Anadarko’s wells. But Collins said the site is large enough to accommodate growth, leaving open the possibility of processing third-party gas at some point.

Anadarko holds about 400,000 acres in Dimmit, La Salle, Maverick and Webb counties, where natural gas liquids are abundant.

All the company’s acreage sits to the west of the Cotulla plant, and a pipeline network will bring the natural gas into the facility, as well as move it off site to market. A truck will come by about once a week to haul off water that’s been removed from the gas stream, but that should be the only regular heavy traffic in and out of the plant, Collins said.

“We’re trying to get as many trucks off the road as we can,” he said. “We all know there’s enough truck traffic on the road as it is.”

The plant also should help reduce flaring in the field, Collins said, because Anadarko will be able to move its methane directly to sales.

From the plant, natural gas liquids will travel through a pipeline to a plant in Yoakum and to fractionation facilities in Mont Belvieu east of Houston. Gas also will go south to Corpus Christi, where it can be used in refining or hook into the network of interstate pipelines.

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More than 500 construction workers have been employed at the site, but Anadarko will have 16 to 20 employees running the plant.

Moving Eagle Ford oil and gas to processing plants and markets has become a major construction and logistical effort.

There was $800 million in natural gas processing plant construction last year in La Salle, Karnes, DeWitt and Bee counties, according to a study released last week by the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development and funded by the trade group America’s Natural Gas Alliance.

The pipeline construction alone in a 14-county area of the Eagle Ford directly employed more than 11,300 workers last year, with an impact of $1.73 billion in both employee payroll and the pipeline infrastructure itself. The pipeline construction is expected to continue through 2014.

But it’s not only new pipelines under construction across the region. Existing pipelines that used to carry product inland are being reversed to carry oil and gas to the Gulf Coast refineries. And railroads in the region are booming.

Thomas Tunstall of UTSA said there’s an estimated $100 billion in manufacturing, refining and processing expansion in the works as the Texas Gulf Coast prepares to use more oil and gas from the Eagle Ford and other U.S. shale fields.

Here are some of the new gas processing plants in the Eagle Ford region:

Anadarko Petroleum Corp.: Brasada Gas Processing Plant in La Salle County, $100 million
Energy Transfer: Karnes County Processing Plant, $210 million
Enterprise Products Partners LP: Yoakum Plant in DeWitt County, $201 million
TEAK Midstream: Silver Oak Plant in Bee County, $280 million

(Source: University of Texas at San Antonio Institute for Economic Development)