Michigan Express Pipeline project aims to secure propane supply

December 1, 2020 By    

A Plan B for Michigan’s propane supply scene is the top priority of a new energy and renewables infrastructure company called Silver Wolf Midstream.

Michigan Express Pipeline map courtesy of Silver Wolf Midstream

Michigan Express Pipeline map: Silver Wolf Midstream. Click to expand.

Niel Rootare, a business development executive with a career focus in energy, formed Silver Wolf Midstream earlier this year with the goal of acquiring and repurposing a natural gas pipeline in Michigan for propane supply and distribution throughout much of the state.

“This project was begging to get done somehow,” Rootare says. “The truth is, there was not going to be a viable propane pipeline solution if it had to be built new.”

Instead, Silver Wolf Midstream is in the final stages of securing an existing 225-mile, 8-in. coated steel line, which it’s naming the Michigan Express Pipeline.

Shell Oil Co. had built the natural gas pipeline in 1974 to transport ethane, Rootare explains, but market demand for ethane in the area waned in recent years due to new product sources coming online, including in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

With Michigan among the largest propane-consuming states in the U.S. and with ongoing governmental threats to Enbridge’s Line 5 natural gas liquids and light crude oil pipeline that has run under the Straits of Mackinac since 1953, Rootare saw the need to enhance propane’s distribution channels locally.

“The Line 5 discussion created this anxiety and question around propane security and supply in the state of Michigan,” Rootare says. “What’s our Plan B? I can talk about Plan B, and that’s what I think this is. It’s highlighted the need for a project like this to come to fruition.”

Once it closes on the pipeline acquisition, expected before year’s end, Silver Wolf Midstream looks to undertake the capital expenditures portion of the project. The effort includes the installation of pumping stations and additional terminal locations before the company begins to flow propane in the third quarter of 2021, Rootare says.

The Michigan Express Pipeline will feature three locations where trucks can load propane: an existing terminal in Kalkaska, at the northern end of the pipeline, and additional terminals are planned in Nelson and Farwell, in the center of the state.

“They were strategically placed based on consumption models for the market and accessibility for trucks,” Rootare says.

Once online, the pipeline will have a volume capacity of 500,000 gallons per day in the first year, with expectations for growth, Rootare says. He also estimates the pipeline will supply 65 million gallons of propane to the market in that first year.

The Michigan Propane Gas Association is supporting the project, according to Derek Dalling, its executive director. He says the new pipeline will provide additional access points, shorter drives and potentially shorter wait times for drivers to access propane storage, also lessening their risk of exceeding hours-of-service limitations.

“Genesis project”

Rootare views the Michigan Express Pipeline as the company’s “genesis project” in a future portfolio built on converting existing infrastructure assets into safe, clean solutions for the energy market.

“I want Silver Wolf Midstream to be a responsible ESG (environmental, social and governance)-oriented company that is going to take and revitalize infrastructure assets and make them economically and commercially viable,” he says.

Rootare has assembled and attracted a team of investors and business leaders to help push the project forward. Silver Wolf Midstream, with offices in Michigan and Texas, named Anuj Patel as the senior vice president of corporate strategy, planning and acquisitions, and Adam Tobia as the senior vice president of operations, engineering and safety.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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