What is LPG?

Broadly, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) describes a group of gases derived from crude oil and or natural gas extraction. LPG is mostly propane, butane or a mix of the two but may include other chemicals. At normal pressure and ambient temperatures, it is a gas, and is used for heating and cooking. When cooled it becomes a liquid that is substantially denser — 270 times denser, according to the National Propane Gas Association — allowing greater quantities to be stored per volume.

The DCP proposal in a nutshell

Based on information pulled from MDEP’s approval of the proposed DCP Midstream project, the terminal would receive six ships per year, with each vessel carrying up to approximately 410,000 barrels of liquid propane maintained at approximately -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The actual number of ships per year could range from four to eight with the amount of LPG received per year not expected to exceed 2.4 million barrels.

The tank will be a vertical, insulated, domed tank with a diameter of approximately 202 feet and height above ground of approximately 138 feet at the peak of the domed roof and 102 feet at the outside walls. It will have a capacity of 540,000 barrels, or 22.7 million gallons.

The terminal would also have truck and rail car loading capabilities. Prior to filling trucks or rail cars, the LPG would be warmed to near ambient temperature by three outdoor propane-fired heaters. An odorization additive would be added as the truck or rail car is filled.

The tank would be located on a 23.6-acre parcel and would include 3.3 acres of new impervious area and 12.8 acres of newly developed area. The site is currently undeveloped fields and woodland and there are currently no structures on the property.

Who is DCP Midstream?

DCP Midstream is a limited liability company owned jointly by oil refiner ConocoPhilips and the natural gas company Spectra Energy, previously known as Duke Energy. The acronym DCP is based on the initials of the parent companies Duke Energy and Conoco Philips.

Duke Energy was previously Duke Energy Field Sevices. The company was formed in March 2000 by combining the natural gas businesses of Duke Energy and ConocoPhillips’ natural gas subsidiary GPM Gas Corp.

In July 2005, DEFS became an equally owned joint venture between Duke Energy and ConocoPhillips. The company changed its name to DCP Midstream in 2007. “Midstream” is a general term applied to byproducts of the petroleum and natural gas industries.

In September, according to national media reports, ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva announced that a yet-to-be-named “spin-off” company would take over joint ventures like DCP Midstream. This change is expected to be finalized within the second quarter of 2012.