FLUSHING - As part of a $1.5 billion deal, Dominion Resources is building a 90,000-gallon natural gas liquids storage facility along state Route 331 that will be connected by pipeline to the Marshall County Natrium facility.
Despite having to evacuate the Natrium construction site for a bomb threat Saturday, Dominion spokesman Charles Penn said the huge processing plant is "just weeks away from going in service." Upon its opening, the Natrium plant should be able to process 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, while fractionating 36,000 barrels of ethane, propane, butane and pentane daily.
The $1.5 billion venture - known as Blue Racer Midstream - is a collaboration of Dominion and Caiman Energy. In the natural gas and oil industry, the term "midstream" broadly refers to pipelines that gather and transport gas and oil, processing plants, fractionators and compressor stations. With continued development, the system could eventually transport "at least 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day," according to Blue Racer.
After selling its Marshall County facilities to Williams Partners for $2.5 billion early last year, Caiman entered this partnership with Dominion in December. The deal includes the Natrium plant, the Dominion assets in Eastern Ohio, as well as the pipeline connecting the West Virginia plant to the Ohio processing infrastructure.
The Blue Racer tanks sit south of the village of Flushing along state Route 331. Workers completed some construction at the site on Monday. Blue Racer spokeswoman Casey Nikoloric confirmed this work is part of the Blue Racer system, as the facility will be used to "handle liquids that condense in the pipeline."
MarkWest Energy also is building processing facilities in Eastern Ohio, highlighted by large plants near Cadiz and Hopedale, with total investment expected to be as high as $1.9 billion. M3 Midstream also is building a large complex that will stretch from Columbiana County to Harrison County, which will cost about $900 million.
"The Utica shale has enormous potential to provide jobs and revenues for the local Ohio economy," said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Because the portion of the Utica shale targeted today produces a rich gas stream, gathering and processing capacity must be developed so that the natural gas and valuable natural gas liquids can be separated and sold."
"Dominion brings well-positioned assets and experienced operations for gathering, processing, fractionating and delivering natural gas and liquids produced from the Utica shale field," added Jack Lafield, Caiman's chairman and chief executive officer.
When the wet Marcellus and Utica shale gas travels to the Dominion plant via the company's pipeline network, the natural gas liquids will be separated from the dry methane gas so that all the products can be individually marketed. Once separated from the gas stream, the propane and butane will be kept in tanks on the Dominion site to be marketed. However, this cannot be done with ethane because of the product's volatility, so Dominion is looking to ship the ethane to a user.
After months of construction, the Natrium facility, which will receive its gas stream from the many Chesapeake Energy operations throughout the Upper Ohio Valley, is finally near completion. However, Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart had to evacuate the workers on site early Saturday when someone apparently made a bomb threat.
"Out of an abundance of caution, all personnel were removed from the work site," Penn said, noting construction continued after personnel returned to the area.