"We are pleased to provide this integrated package of services to BHP Billiton and look forward to a long-term relationship of providing access for their production from discoveries in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico to the highest value natural gas and natural gas liquids markets on the U.S. Gulf Coast," stated O.S. "Dub" Andras, Enterprise's president and chief executive officer.
Manta Ray Offshore Gathering Company, L.L.C. ("Manta Ray") and Nautilus Pipeline Company, L.L.C. ("Nautilus") have executed agreements with BHP Billiton to provide natural gas gathering and transportation services. Upon receipt of gas from the Cleopatra Gas Gathering System at Ship Shoal 332, Manta Ray will transport the gas to Ship Shoal 207 where it will be delivered into the Nautilus pipeline.
Nautilus will transport the gas to the Neptune gas processing plant, located in St. Mary Parish, La. Enterprise owns a 25.67 percent equity interest in both Manta Ray and Nautilus. Shell and Marathon own a 50 percent and 24.33 percent interest, respectively, in each of the two companies. Shell is the physical operator of Manta Ray and Marathon is the physical operator of Nautilus.
Enterprise and Marathon have executed an agreement with BHP Billiton to process its natural gas to remove natural gas liquids ("NGLs") at the Neptune plant. This will enable the natural gas to meet the quality specifications required by the pipelines that deliver the gas to the ultimate consumers. Currently, natural gas deliveries to Neptune are near the plant's capacity and given the expected growth in production from the Southern Green Canyon projects and future deepwater developments, the Neptune Plant owners are expanding the facility by 115% to a processing capacity of 650 million cubic feet per day. Enterprise owns a 66 percent equity interest in Neptune and serves as its operator. Marathon owns the remaining 34 percent equity interest.
"The expansion of our Neptune plant, which is expected to be completed in November 2003, will provide capacity to extract an additional 25,000 barrels per day of NGLs that will flow into our pipelines and fractionators where we will provide valuable fee-based services," Andras continued.
After being processed at the Neptune plant, the natural gas will be redelivered into the Nautilus hub, which is one of the most significant natural gas market hubs on the Gulf Coast. The Nautilus hub, operated by Marathon, gives producers access to the major consuming markets in the eastern and central United States, as well as to growing markets within Louisiana. The hub currently has seven interconnects with intrastate and interstate natural gas pipelines. Two interconnects are with Enterprise affiliates, Acadian Gas Pipeline and Cypress Gas Pipeline, which are Louisiana intrastate pipelines. These systems provide producers and marketers access to large industrial customers and gas distribution and electric power generation companies.
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