A helium plant located west of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado near the Colorado-Kansas state line has a new owner. Tumbleweed Midstream LLC acquired the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System from DCP Midstream, LP.
The Ladder Creek system is supported by long-term acreage dedications across a 1,000-square-mile area that spans Cheyenne, Kit Carson and Kiowa counties in Colorado and Hamilton, Greeley, Wichita, Kearney, Wallace and Finney counties in Kansas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System serves natural gas producers operating in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, which includes the Morrow, Mississippian, Spergen, Chester and Marmaton formations. The natural gas produced in the region has a high helium content, with average concentrations as high as three percent.
The plant was built in 1997 by Union Pacific Resources to separate helium from the natural gas stream and liquefy it for transport to market. DCP Midstream acquired the Ladder Creek system from Union Pacific in 1999.
Tumbleweed Midstream was established in 2019 to focus on the acquisition, operation and growth of the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System. The company is supported by capital commitments from management and Tumbleweed’s founders.
Current processing capacity at the Ladder Creek cryogenic processing plant is 40 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (MMcf/d), expandable to 50 MMcf/d. The plant has the capacity to extract and liquefy 1.5 MMcf/d of helium, with extraction and liquefaction to purity levels of 99.999 percent. The plant also produces NGLs and residue gas. NGLs are transported via pipeline to the DCP Wattenberg pipeline for transportation to Conway, Kansas, for fractionation. Residue gas is sent via pipeline to CIG Rockies or to regional producers for use as fuel.
Helium is used in cryogenics, MRI machines, welding, deep sea diving, manufacturing of fiber optic cables and semiconductors, and retail sales of helium-filled balloons.