Utica and Marcellus shale: Midstream development just starting

CAMBRIDGE, Ohio —  Business and government leaders gathered in Cambridge for the Ohio Utica Midstream Development Forum Nov. 6 to discuss what the future holds for oil and gas industry.

The main topic were pipelines and processing, often called the “midstream.” It’s a critical piece of the industry, as Dominion Gas officials told the group: If the midstream isn’t there, then the gas underground means nothing.

Unparalleled construction

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson said Markwest has built pipelines and infrastructure, and developed jobs in Noble County not seen in Ohio in years.

“It’s unmatched in history,” said Johnson.

He expects the build-up to continue in the Utica shale region.

Johnson said the shale boom has resulted in 38,380 jobs in Ohio related to unconventional gas drilling and the number is expected to be 145,000 in 2029 and even more by 2035.

He pledged to continue the fight to keep the economic growth continuing, and to keep Washington at bay so Ohio can keep drilling.

Markwest

Greg Sullivan, of Markwest Energy Partners, discussed some of the development in Ohio. He said the company is constructing a second Cadiz facility that will include the Seneca project line.

Other key midstream processors also gave updates:

Dominion

Dominion Gas officials said the core of the northeastern Pennsylvania dry gas still offers attractive returns. Timothy C. McNutt, director of planning and asset utilization, Dominion East Ohio, reported that early Utica shale dry gas results in Ohio are similar to the results found in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Dominion also reported the Utica shale region has changed from an area where gas was coming, to an area where business leaders are trying to find ways to dispose of it.

Enbridge

Justin Stegall, state government affairs for Enbridge Energy, another midstream processor, told the group that 50 percent of the company’s labor force is local and 50 percent is from out of the area.

He also said it’s a challenge to keep up with regulations that they have to meet, especially from different jurisdictions, whether it be local, state or federal.

Another challenge is the resistance by landowners to grant easements for pipeline projects. And the company has also encountered opposition from environmental activists, which is slowing down the construction process.

Projects

Robert Huffman, project director, Northeast business development for Spectra Energy Transmission, talked about some of the projects Spectra has planned.

One of the projects on the horizon is a 73-mile line that will extend a 30-inch pipeline from Texas to Clarington, in Monroe County, Ohio, to the Kensington plant, in southern Columbiana County, Ohio. It will be built by Spectra Energy and will cost $500 million.

Another project being discussed is between DTE Energy, Enbridge and Spectra Energy. It will be a 250 mile long large diameter pipeline that will deliver at least 1 billion cubic feet a day of gas.

Linda Woggon, Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Shale Coalition, led a discussion between Rhonda Reda, executive director, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, and Harry Eadon, Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, on the economic opportunities being presented in Ohio.

Eadon said there are 7,500 wells online in Pennsylvania. Ohio is just getting started and the region hasn’t completely felt the economic impacts of the midstream projects.

He said there are currently 22 facilities in Ohio operating, under construction or planned. The estimated investment in Ohio is expected to be 14 midstream processing plants valued at between $6.5 billion to $7.2 billion.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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