Two Texas-based operators have joined forces to create a virtual pipeline business designed to move compressed and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to customers nationwide.

Sapphire Gas Solutions was created by Dallas-based BP Energy Partners (BPEP) affiliate Blue Roads Solutions and Thigpen Solutions, which is based near Houston in Conroe. Sapphire is to provide gas and turnkey solutions for U.S. customers.

“A core value proposition in merging these companies is creating one of the largest natural gas solutions providers serving the oil and gas sector, utilities, industrial companies, asphalt and aggregate producers, and remote power generation installations across the U.S.,” said BPEP managing partner Alex Szewczyk.

Private equity BPEP, originally sponsored by legendary wildcatter T. Boone Pickens, focuses on natural gas investments. It was co-founded in 2013  by Szewczyk and Michael Watzky.

Sapphire, to be based in Conroe, would be led by Thigpen CEO Sam Thigpen. Blue Roads COO Justin Cordon has been tapped as chief integration officer.

“This expands the capabilities of the two firms from regional delivery to a nationwide presence, with our promise of best-in-class service,” said Thigpen.  “We will offer a greater set of solutions to our diverse and expanding customer base. Additionally, by combining these two service-oriented companies, we can create opportunities for operational efficiencies…

“More than 6.2 Bcf (75 million LNG gallons) of off-pipe natural gas has been delivered in the past three years across all facets of the business, and we are just getting started,” he said.

According to the merger partners, the virtual pipeline space has grown nationwide, in part because of the regulatory hurdles some developers face to build physical pipelines. Businesses and utilities may use virtual pipelines for gas supply, which are off-pipe and/or ahead-of-pipe gas deliveries.

Virtual pipelines also may provide utilities and local distribution companies with integrity support and peak-shaving operations to ensure supply resiliency, the partners said. In addition to delivering gas, Sapphire would be able to site, design, install, monitor and operate remote and unmanned gas fueling systems.

Sapphire would provide a “multitude of mobile natural gas solutions, including off-pipe fueling, seasonal peak-shaving, temporary gas supply, and backup gas supply for pipeline interruptions,” management said.