Tumbleweed Midstream Acquires Ladder Creek Helium Plant near Cheyenne Wells

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Published Thursday, January 9, 2020

Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC ("Tumbleweed") announced Wednesday that it has acquired the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System and 730 miles of pipline from DCP Midstream, LP. The plant is located just west of Cheyenne Wells near the Colorado-Kansas border. 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.

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MAP Ladder Creek System
Courtesy Tumbleweed Midstream LLC.

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.

Tumbleweed is led by CEO Durell Johnson, who has a unique history with the Ladder Creek plant. He served Union Pacific as the plant's project engineer and project manager from 1997 to 1999. In this role, Johnson hired and trained all employees, commissioned the plant in 1997 and managed operations until the plant was sold to DCP. Johnson started his 35-year career in the energy industry as a reservoir engineer with Exxon in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

The Ladder Creek Helium Plant

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.

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.

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