Ladder Creek Plant

Ladder Creek System

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 (“Union Pacific”) 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 acquired the plant and gathering system from DCP Midstream in December 2019.

The plant is located just west of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, 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. 

Ladder Creek Gathering System

The gathering and distribution infrastructure associated with the Ladder Creek system includes approximately 730 miles of pipeline, divided as follows:

  • 190 miles of FERC-regulated interstate pipeline;
  • 23 miles of residue gas pipeline;
  • 15 miles of pipeline to carry fuel gas back to producers;
  • 42 miles of NGL pipeline;
  • 460 miles of gas gathering pipeline; and
  • 10 compressor stations.

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), easily 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.