HANOVERTON - The first phase of a $400 million gas collection and processing plant being built south of town is still on schedule to become operational by May.
"We have a very aggressive timeline. We've got some construction work under way, and I was there today, and it's coming along really, really well," said Les Smith, vice president for business development for M3 Midstream LLC.
Smith's comments came at an open house on the Utica East Ohio project held this week at United Local High School, where the people who designed and will operate the plant were on hand to answer questions. There was a steady stream of people from Columbiana and Carroll counties who came and went during the nearly three-hour event.
M3 is one of the three companies in the Utica East Ohio joint venture to build the plant on 117 acres between state Route 644 and Tunnel Hill Road in Hanover Township. The other partners are Chesapeake Energy and EnerVest Energy.
The plant is to serve as a collection and compression site for the natural gas from wells being drilled in Eastern Ohio, with an initial capacity of 600 million cubic feet per day. The operation includes a cryogenic processing facility that will extract natural gas liquids from the shale gas, such as propane, butane and ethane.
The NGLs will be transported by pipeline from the plant across Carroll County to a $500 million shale gas storage and transfer hub being built near Scio in Harrison County by MarkWest Energy Partners.
There were will be a 12-inch line to transfer the NGLs from the Hanoverton plant to the Scio facility. A second 24-inch line will extend into Carroll County to collect gas from connector lines coming from wells in that county. The plant also will collect gas from connector lines that will be installed for shale gas coming from Columbiana County wells.
"So there'll be a few well connects that come directly to the plant, but you can see there are two lines directly feeding into the plant," Smith said.
There also will be a third pipeline at the plant from which Utica East Ohio will sell dry natural gas, which is the consumer grade natural gas left over after NGLs are extracted.
Smith said the plant will be operated by 20 to 30 full-time employees, and the entire facility will be built over the next several years, creating 200 to 300 construction jobs.
"We plan on being in business a very long time, as long as the wells are in operation, which is 30 to 50 years. These are really long life wells, so we're building a long-term asset in these plants," he said.