New MarkWest natural gas processing online in Doddridge Co. - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

New MarkWest natural gas processing online in Doddridge Co.

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MarkWest's new Sherwood I natural gas processing plant near West Union in Doddridge County. MarkWest's new Sherwood I natural gas processing plant near West Union in Doddridge County.
Sen. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, left, joined MarkWest Energy Partners CEO Frank Semple, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Antero Resources CEO Paul Rady at the Dec. 6 Sherwood I ribbon cutting in Doddridge Co. Sen. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, left, joined MarkWest Energy Partners CEO Frank Semple, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Antero Resources CEO Paul Rady at the Dec. 6 Sherwood I ribbon cutting in Doddridge Co.

New, much-needed natural gas processing capacity is coming online in Doddridge County, thanks to MarkWest Energy Partners.

The Denver, Colo.-based midstream company held a ribbon cutting Dec. 6 to celebrate the opening of the first stage of its Sherwood processing plant at Route 50 near West Union.

"We're very proud to announce that we're also building a second and third Sherwood plant as we speak," said MarkWest CEO Frank Semple at the event. "We're already running a lot of gas through the first plant — that's a very good thing."

Phase I of the Sherwood processing plant has begun separating methane and the lightest natural gas liquid, ethane, from the heavier natural gas liquids: propane, butane and isobutane and natural gasoline.

Methane and ethane are routed directly to pipeline for distribution as natural gas; the heavier liquids are being trucked to the company's fractionation plant at Houston, Pa., to be separated for sale into various markets. The company expects to have a pipeline to Houston operational next spring, said Engineering Director Scott Lewis.

The company eventually will separate ethane as well. Local markets for ethane will develop as ethane crackers are built and come online.

Sherwood currently is able to process about 120 million cubic feet per day and Phase I will ramp quickly up to 200 MMcf/day; Phases II and III will take that to 600 MMcf/day.

Lewis said Phase I was under construction for about a year and a half and employed about 200 local electricians, pipefitters, welders, carpenters and other tradespeople.

Semple outlined MarkWest's presence in West Virginia and the region.

The company has invested about $3 billion since 2008 in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, he said — about $1 billion of that in West Virginia.

In 2013, at its Sherwood, Majorsville and Mobley facilities in West Virginia, it plans to add six more processing plants like the one that is opening now at Sherwood, he said, and it's also building a 38,000 barrel per day fractionation facility at Majorsville.

And the company employs about 300 in the four-state region, 75 in West Virginia; by the end of 2013 it will have 450 working in the region and 100 in West Virginia, not including contractors and ancillary jobs.

By the end of 2013, MarkWest will have more processing capacity in West Virginia than any other midstream company, Semple said.

"The positive economic impact is substantial and undeniable," he said.

MarkWest's presence at Sherwood is directly related to the growth of Antero Resources in Doddridge and Harrison counties, Semple said, and Antero Chairman and CEO Paul Rady spoke of that success at the ribbon cutting.

Like MarkWest, Antero is based in Denver, but West Virginia is its biggest focus, Rady said.

The company is one of the top two producers in West Virginia, he said. It has 12 drilling rigs operating in the state and will have 14 next year; it's spending $700 million to drill 90 horizontal wells this year and another $115 million laying pipelines and building compressor stations.

It has submitted more than one-third of the 491 horizontal well permits filed since the Legislature passed the state's new rules for horizontal drilling in December 2011, he added.

The company has 40 full-time employees in the state and about 3,500 contractors of which more than 70 percent live here, he said.

And it's building a new 50,000–square foot complex at Bridgeport.

Semple, Rady and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who was on hand to cut the ribbon, all spoke of the importance of the Marcellus Shale in the nation's energy future and of the conversion of drilling rigs and fleets to run on natural gas and on the creation of natural gas fueling stations to support that effort.

The Marcellus is the second biggest gas field in the world after one in the Middle East, Rady said, and the liquids-rich section around northern West Virginia is "the best part."

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