Responding to a “resurgence in activity” in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming, Williams Partners LP and Crestwood Equity Partners LP are planning to expand their jointly owned Jackalope Gas Gathering System and associated Bucking Horse gas processing facility, Williams said Wednesday.

The expansion would increase processing capacity of the Jackalope system in the “underserved growth basin” of the Niobrara formation to 345 MMcf/d by the end of 2019. The expansion includes an increase in capacity of the Bucking Horse plant in Converse County, WY, to 145 MMcf/d from 120 MMcf/d by the end of the year.

The partners also plan to add a second plant on the current Bucking Horse footprint by the end of 2019 and boost Jackalope by an additional 200 MMcf/d at the existing competitive fee-rate structure, Oklahoma City-based Williams said.

The gathering and processing facilities provide services under a long-term, fee-based agreement with Chesapeake Energy Corp., which is supported by a 358,000-acre area of dedication (gross) from the producer. Currently, Chesapeake is operating five rigs in the PRB.

Producers have increased testing and development activities in the PRB as a result of the recent discovery of multiple productive oil-saturated formations, Williams said. According to the company, there are 19 rigs operating in the PRB, primarily targeting the Turner, Frontier, Mowry, Sussex and Niobrara formations. This has resulted in an “increasing need for wellhead services and midstream infrastructure in the basin,” it said.

Based on the increasing productivity of the Turner and Niobrara formations in the PRB and the current level of rig activity within the joint venture’s dedicated acreage, volumes are expected to approach the full capacity of the expanded Jackalope system by 2021, Williams said.

Williams’ gathering and processing volumes for the Jackalope system have more than doubled since the start of 2017. By increasing the output of the system, it “better positions us to meet the upstream development needs of the Niobrara, which enables us to enhance the midstream services we provide to Chesapeake –increasing our ability to meet the growing demands of our customer,” said Senior Vice President Walter Bennett, who is in charge of Williams’ West operating area.

Williams management in May indicated that increased producer activity in wetter natural gas plays like the Eagle Ford Shale of Texas, the Wamsutter field and portions of the PRB would drive volume growth into 2019. Specific to the partnership’s west midstream business segment, which includes assets from Wyoming to Kansas and South Texas, gathered volumes were higher in nine of 10 franchises year/year in 1Q2018. Only the Barnett Shale saw a decline in volumes, about 5% sequentially, management said.

Williams is scheduled to discuss second quarter earnings on a call with investors on Aug. 2.