A joint venture is about to nearly double the capacity of a massive processing plant and pipeline complex in eastern Ohio -- just about a year after what’s called a fractionator first opened there. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the $200 million deal announced today.
The 300-foot towers that loom over the hills of Harrison County distill the gas coming out of the Utica shale, peeling off natural gas for the local market, and propane, butane and other liquid gases for the national market. There are six towers now. The announcement says there will be three more.
Scott Hallam’s job is to watch over those towers and the rest of the complex for Access Midstream. He says production will go from 650 million to 1.1 billion cubic feet a day. The venture also is adding 50 miles of gathering lines. Despite cuts in production estimates by Antero Energy, and the cancellation of construction of a pipeline by another company, Hallam says this investment is justified.
“We feel like this is confirmation of the production that’s currently occurring and the opportunity that exists particularly in the northern portion of the Utica shale development," Hallam said. "This expansion represents that the Utica is a real opportunity, a world-class asset.”
He says the growth will come from existing customers, including Chesapeake Energy, and a new customer, American Energy Partners. That’s run by Aubrey McClendon, who was running Chesapeake when it first invested heavily in Ohio.
The joint venture is owned by Access Midstream, M3 Midstream LLC and EV Energy Partners LP.