Copano resolves Houston plant start-up problems

Copano Energy, Houston, reported that repairs to its Houston Central cryogenic processing plant, southwest of Houston, had been completed.

The newly upgraded plant began producing natural gas liquids on Mar. 13 and is processing about 200 MMcfd of rich natural gas. Copano said it anticipates no change to the original project cost of $21 million.

The repairs had been the subject of a quarterly conference call earlier this year.

In that call, Bruce Northcutt, Copano president and chief executive officer, explained that, in mid-January, the company had shut down the existing cryogenic plant to begin tie-in for a new tower. Copano started up the new tower on Jan. 27 but “experienced a mechanical failure of a release valve.”

Mechanical problems persisted as Copano attempted to bring up the plant, preventing the company from operating the new tower “at the designed rate and conditions.” After troubleshooting the problem, said Northcutt, the tower’s manufacturer and engineers concluded the cause of the start-up difficulties were mechanical problems inside the top of the tower.

In parallel, said Northcutt, “we're developing an alternative solution to resolve this start-up issue should the repairs fail to resolve the problem.”

Copano also has 400 MMcfd more cryogenic processing under way at the Houston Central plant, to be finished in early 2013.

Contact Warren R. True at warrent@ogjonline.com.

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