Blue Racer plant reopens after fire

NATRIUM – A natural gas processing plant closed after a fire in September recently reopened.

The Blue Racer Midstream processing plant shut down after the explosion on Sept. 21. Local authorities learned of the blast and fire just before 1:30 a.m. Sept. 21 when a Marshall County sheriff’s deputy patrolling in the area spotted it.

W.Va. 2 near the 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.

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

Earlier this month, Dominion Managing Director of West Virginia & State Local Affairs Robert Orndorff Jr. was on-site when the company tested its new alarm system that will be activated in the event of any future emergencies.

At Natrium, once the wet Marcellus and Utica shale gas travels to the plant, the ethane, butane, propane and other natural gas liquids are stripped away from the dry methane gas so all the products can be marketed individually.

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, so Dominion now ships much of this product for cracking along the Gulf Coast or in Canada.

To this point, Blue Racer – along with Williams Energy, MarkWest Energy and M3 Midstream – has invested nearly $10 billion for infrastructure to move Utica and Marcellus shale natural gas out of the Upper Ohio Valley.