Natural gas pipeline projects are in the works. There were two stories on Oct. 17th by Casey Junkins in the Wheeling based
newspaper, The Intelligencer. One story described plans for a new pipeline to carry raw natural gas from wellheads to processing plants in Marshall County. The other story dealt with the announcement of plans for a pipeline project that will serve to deliver ethane to Texas from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The natural gas we burn is principally methane. Ethane and other hydrocarbons are also found in raw natural gas and must be separated from methane by a fractionation process. The western side of the Marcellus shale formation and the Utica shale formation are especially rich in “wet gas”, i.e. the gas from these shales has a higher percentage of the valuable weightier hydrocarbons such as ethane.
Junkins provides this regarding the raw gas pipeline: “About 250 miles of natural gas pipelines are planned for construction in northern West Virginia over the next six months, but some landowners are not ready to sign pipeline deals.” Another 60 miles is planned for southern West Virginia, bringing the total pipeline miles to 310. The project is anticipated to provide 3200 temporary jobs. Click here for this story.
Regarding the second story about the ethane pipeline, “A project designed to pump 90,000 barrels of Ohio Valley ethane to the Gulf Coast every day has been canceled. But a new pipeline that would pump 125,000 barrels of ethane daily from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to Mont Belvieu, Texas, is in the works.” Click here for that story.
So what does this mean for West Virginia? Clearly the construction projects will be massive and will create many jobs. Hopefully the jobs will go to West Virginians. Despite Chesapeake CEO Audrey McClendon’s assertion (in defense of hiring out-of-state workers) that a third of WV applicants fail the drug test, Wayne Rebich of the ACT Foundation disagrees. “Less than 3% of the union construction workers in West Virginia which are tested fail the drug test,” Rebich said. The ACT Foundation is the lobbying and promotional arm of the state trade unions.
It is noted that the contract for the ethane pipeline construction has been awarded to Texas-based Enterprise Products Partners, LP. The ACT Foundation asked our legislators for law to make it a priority for corporations engaging in construction projects in WV to hire West Virginians. “We didn’t get what we wanted,” Rebich said. A partial victory was achieved; companies which receive tax breaks or public subsidies must give priority to West Virginian hires.
What else does pipeline construction mean to West Virginia? I recommend that you visit www.Marcellus-Shale.us and take a peek at the (ugly) photos there of pipeline construction. The potential for noise, dust, sedimentation and erosion and the sequellae, destruction of stream water quality, are plain to see. There will be interruption of wildlife corridors. There will be future risks of pipeline explosions.
Where exactly will the pipelines go? Will they cross any public lands? I believe that is an unknown until the rights are purchased to build the pipelines.