Midstream Activities and Challenges in the Marcellus Natural Gas Industry

by Duane Nichols on March 2, 2011


The MarkWest Midstream company provides intermediate services to the natural gas industry between the so-called upstream activities of drilling and fracking versus the downstream activities of transmission and distribution.  Services include gathering lines, processing (incl. drying), fractionation (separation of compounds),  compressor facilities, transport and more.

This company has been active in gathering  gas in the Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Greene and Washington, as well as the West Virginia counties of Doddridge, Marshall and Wetzel. Two delivery points are at Wind Ridge, PA, and Majorsville on the WV-PA border.

MarkWest Energy operates more than 100 gas compressor facilities nation-wide, including two in Mount Pleasant Township in Washington County, PA—the location of the very first horizontally drilled Marcellus Shale gas well. There has been tension between area residents and MarkWest about the facilities over noise, lights and odors coming from the facilities. A few months ago MarkWest made application to expand the facilities but the Mt. Pleasant Township Zoning board denied a request to add two engines at the Fulton and the Stewart compressing stations and expand the steel structures. The company processes gas there for Range Resources.

One of three tanks at a MarkWest Liberty Midstream  compressor station in Mount Pleasant Township caught fire around 5 AM on March 1st because of a malfunctioning heater, causing the hatch of a second tank to blow off, according to information from the PA-DEP. There were no injuries or environmental damage, authorities said.  A relatively loud explosion and fire, which was quickly contained, was reported.  A number of other companies have existing and proposed compressor stations in northern WV and SW Pennsylvania.

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