High on Helium

Midstream Business

Durell Johnson, CEO of Tumbleweed Midstream, turned to an ‘old friend’ to carve out a successful niche in an otherwise dismal year for midstream.

By Len Vermillion, Editorial Director

Every once in a while, what’s old becomes new again. It only takes someone to champion it and nurse it back to good health, even when the odds seem stacked against it.

Durell Johnson, CEO of Tumbleweed Midstream, saw the chance to rekindle the magic of a long ago business when he and a group of private investors bought the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering system from DCP Midstream a year ago. Six months later, despite a bleak market and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tumbleweed reported it had quadrupled helium production at the plant near Cheyenne Wells, Colo., just west of the Kansas border.

That’s a far cry from the declining production the plant saw over the last 20 years. How Johnson and Tumbleweed achieved this is a long tale spanning decades and a lot of care to cultivate a resource that was never fully developed.