Inergy Acquires Salt Production Company Located in Upstate New Yorkadmin
Monday, August 11th 2008
Inergy, L.P. announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, Inergy Midstream, LLC, has executed a definitive agreement to purchase 100% of the membership interests in US Salt, LLC (“US Salt”), an industry-leading solution mining and salt production company located in Schuyler County, New York, between Inergy’s Stagecoach and Steuben County natural gas storage facilities. The transaction is expected to close within the month, subject to customary closing conditions; and it is expected to be immediately accretive to unitholders on a distributable cash flow per unit basis.
US Salt is one of five major solution mined salt manufacturers in the United States, producing and selling in excess of 300,000 tons of salt each year. The US Salt operations are complementary and in close proximity to Inergy’s existing midstream energy storage platform. The solution mining process used by US Salt creates salt caverns that can be developed into usable natural gas storage capacity. Inergy initially estimates that the acquisition provides access to at least 10 Bcf of additional salt cavern storage capacity which can be interconnected to its existing energy storage platform.
Inergy expects to immediately begin developing approximately 5 Bcf of available salt cavern capacity, after receiving necessary regulatory approvals. The initial 5 Bcf of storage capacity is expected to be operational in the fall of 2010.
“The acquisition of US Salt accomplishes a lot for our investors on several fronts,” said John Sherman, President and CEO of Inergy. “First, the salt business is characterized by stable cash flows and long-term growth potential; and it meets all of our strict acquisition criteria. This transaction also provides us with a long-term pipeline of high-return storage development projects in the heart of the Northeast natural gas distribution infrastructure. In addition, this transaction is yet another example of the successful execution on our plan to build an integrated natural gas storage and transportation hub in the Northeast.”
US Salt produces food grade salt products, bulk salt for chemical feedstock, and is a market leader in the manufacture of pharmaceutical grade salt. The salt refining capacity is 70% contracted under term agreements. In addition to the salt production operations, Inergy also acquires usable salt cavern capacity for the storage of natural gas, LPGs or other refined products which is the natural by-product of the salt solution mining process.
“One of the major hurdles with the development of salt cavern storage in the Northeast is brine disposal. This acquisition provides us a continuous means of brine disposal with limitless expansion possibilities to our overall energy storage platform in the Northeast,” said Bill Moler, Senior Vice President of Inergy Midstream. “The acquisition provides us with approximately 10 Bcf of existing cavern space, and every new brine well that we drill creates additional storage capacity.”
Inergy has performed pressure tests on a significant sample of the existing salt caverns to confirm the capability for energy storage development. Inergy believes that it will have approximately 5.0 Bcf of initial storage capacity available for development after receiving necessary regulatory approvals. Development of the balance of the existing cavern capacity into storage services will be subject to market demand and further due diligence. The caverns are within close proximity to the Empire Connector Pipeline, NYSEG’s intrastate pipeline network, the Millennium Pipeline, Inergy’s previously discussed Thomas Corners project, and Teppco’s LPG pipeline and storage system. Inergy expects to immediately market these facilities in an open season and continue to pursue its strategy of creating an integrated Northeast gas storage hub.
US Salt’s New York employee base and its sales and marketing personnel will remain intact. Existing customers of US Salt should expect the same outstanding service and product quality they currently enjoy. The management team of US Salt will continue to lead the company from the combined Kansas City offices of Inergy and US Salt.
Upon completion of the acquisition of US Salt and Inergy’s subsequent capital investment for the development of the initial 5.0 Bcf of gas storage, Inergy expects the total invested capital to be approximately $191 million. Inergy expects to generate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from the combined salt production and gas storage operations of approximately $28.5 million on a run rate basis by the end of fiscal year 2010. Inergy will fund the initial acquisition of US Salt with a combination of borrowings from its revolving credit facility and Inergy, L.P. common units issued directly to the seller.