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Chesapeake Utilities Completes $59.2 Million Gatherco Merger

Delaware-based Chesapeake Utilities Corp. (CUC) said it has completed its merger with Ohio's Gatherco Inc., in a $59.2 million deal that transforms the latter into CUC's newest wholly-owned subsidiary, Aspire Energy of Ohio LLC.

According to CUC, Gatherco was formed in 1997 after it acquired Columbia Gas Transmission's natural gas gathering assets in Ohio. Gatherco, which was based in Orrville, OH, had operations in 40 counties in Ohio, and its assets included 16 gathering systems and more than 2,000 miles of pipelines and rights-of-way in the central and eastern parts of the state.

"With the merger now completed, Aspire Energy will use these assets to provide natural gas midstream services, processing and transportation services to over 300 producers, and wholesale natural gas supply to over 30,000 end-users in Ohio," CUC said in a statement Wednesday.

Michael McMasters, CEO of CUC, added that the merger "is a great strategic win for the management and customers of both companies and is projected to generate accretive earnings in the first full year of operation following the merger.

"In addition, we believe that there are significant growth opportunities to add both production and distribution customers in and around the existing system. Gatherco's valuable rights of way could also present additional opportunities for growth."

The definitive merger agreement was announced on Feb. 2 and was approved by Gatherco's shareholders on March 20.

On its website, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says it oversees more than 56,000 miles of distribution lines and more than 10,000 miles of transmission lines in the state.

CUC is a diversified energy company based in Dover, DE. Its businesses include natural gas distribution and transmission operations on the Delmarva Peninsula -- an area that includes all of Delaware, plus portions of Maryland, Virginia and southeast Pennsylvania -- and in Florida. It also has a natural gas liquids marketing subsidiary, Xeron, based in Houston.

A spokesperson for CUC could not be reached for comment Thursday.

CUC is also active with compressed natural gas (CNG). The company is part of a proposal by Emera CNG LLC to export CNG to the Caribbean (see Daily GPI, Dec. 24, 2013). Under the plan, which needs approval by the U.S. Department of Energy, Emera would export CNG via truck and oceangoing vessels, and build compression and loading facilities within the Port of Palm Beach, FL. The Riviera Lateral, a CUC intrastate pipeline, would serve the facility.

In 2012, CUC said it would partner with Wise Gas Inc. to develop a series of CNG fueling stations in Florida and along the East Coast (see Daily GPI, April 12, 2012). The stations would serve municipal and private fleet vehicles.

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