ConocoPhillips and its partners in the Gulf Coast Fractionators joint venture are planning a $75-million expansion of their natural gas liquids fractionation plant in Houston. The facility’s maximum capacity will be increased by approximately 43,000 barrels/day to a total of 145,000 barrels per day, or 42%.
Targa Resources Partners is ConocoPhillips’ co-investor in Gulf Coast Fractionators; a third share is owned by Devon Energy corp., an independent oil-and-gas exploration and production company.
Natural gas liquid (NGL) fractionation is the process of treating the liquid components that have been extracted from the natural gas stream as it is recovered from the well and separating them into their base components, for uses as byproducts. Fractionation occurs in stages as the different liquids reach their various boiling points and the specific hydrocarbons are removed individually.
ConocoPhillips is the operator of the Houston plant, and will manage the expansion project so that ongoing operations are not disrupted during construction. The expansion is expected to be operational during the second quarter of 2012, subject to regulatory approvals.
The cost of the expansion is expected to be significantly lower than a greenfield fractionation facility would be, since the new capacity will be integrated with already established fractionation capacity, utilities, infrastructure and plant footprint.