Central West Virginia Lags Wider Area in Natural Gas Activities

by Duane Nichols on August 8, 2018

John Black, VP of Energy Solutions in Clarksburg, July 2018

WV Close to Building First Natgas-Fired Power Plant

From an Article of Marcellus Drilling News, WWW Internet, August 2, 2018

For years Energy Solutions Consortium (ESC) has been trying to build several natural gas-fired electric plants in West Virginia, but have been prevented from doing so by Big Coal lawsuits. It’s understandable that coal doesn’t want to give up its virtual monopoly on electric generation in the Mountain State. Some 95% of all electricity produced in the state comes from coal-fired plants.

Last year then-WV Sec. of Commerce Woody Thrasher observed that Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, while WV has built NONE. Why not?

Because of Robert Murray, CEO and founder of Murray Energy, one of the largest independent coal mine operators in the U.S. Bob Murray is using a front organization called Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) to file a blizzard of frivolous lawsuits that have kept all new gas-fired plant projects from being built in WV.

The best chance ESC has in building its first gas-fired plant is in Harrison County. Only one roadblock remains–an OVJA challenge to the project’s air permit previously granted by the West Virginia Air Quality Board. Kind of ironic that Big Coal is challenging an air permit for far-cleaner-burning natural gas. Coal pollutes the air way more than natural gas.

The WV Supreme Court hears challenges to these kinds of permits. The paperwork has been filed with the high court. Once the court accepts and hears the case, which ESC thinks will be early fall, and the air permit is upheld, the first shovel of dirt will fly to build the $880 million Harrison County Power Station.

An ESC rep recently updated Harrison County officials and labor union members about the status of the project.

See also: Developers: Harrison gas-fired power plant project faces final hurdle before construction can begin | WV News


BJ Services moving from central WV back to Penna., employs some 200 people

By BOB ROLLEY, The Express News Service, Lock Haven, PA, August 6, 2018

MILL HALL – A vacant facility location near Lock Haven PA is in line for reuse. The former local Baker Hughes regional natural gas services center will see new life in the coming months.

Texas-based BJ Services said it will relocate its Clarksburg, W. Va., operations into the former Baker Hughes facility just off Route 220 in the Lamar Township Business Park south of Mill Hall.

The company said it anticipates moving more than 200 employees here. That number reflects the firm’s entire natural gas fracturing operation in Clarksburg, BJ Spokesperson Michelle Pyner told PennLive.com.

The transfer will take place over the next three months. That’s the opposite of what occurred in spring 2016, when Baker Hughes closed the plant and moved operations to Clarksburg. The facility entails over 95,000 square feet under roof in six different buildings, with the main building combining an office area with a garage facility.

Baker Hughes opened the natural gas pressure pumping facility in late December 2012. At one point after it opened, Baker Hughes employed 200 people. However, as gas exploration and production slowed, Baker Hughes put the facility up for sale in September 2016 – four years after it invested upward of $37 million to build the center on 38 acres in the business park.

Clinton County Economic Partnership CEO Mike Flanagan said he’s elated BJ Services is moving an important part of its energy production business to Clinton County. “This is wonderful news,” Flanagan told The Express. “We believe it shows that the natural gas industry to coming back in this area.” He said it’s possible BJ Services will hire locally, though BJ Services said Clarksburg employees are being given the choice to stay with the firm and come to Clinton County.

Fracturing fleets and crews will report out of Mill Hall that will serve as the district office for support operations in the Marcellus and Utica natural gas basins, the firm said.

Clinton County and much of Pennsylvania sit atop the Marcellus Shale formation, from which natural gas is produced through well-drilling using vertical and horizontal hydraulic fracturing technology.

Much of the state-owned forestland in northern and western Clinton County was leased by the state for gas drilling. Some gas exploration activities are continuing north of Lock Haven.

BJ Services bought the hydraulic fracturing side of Baker Hughes a couple of years ago. Baker Hughes still owns about 45 percent of the business. This will be the only BJ Services facility in Pennsylvania.

The firm is considered to be among the largest oilfield-energy services provider in North America, focusing on land cementing and hydraulic fracturing services. It is an independent company created when CSL Capital Management and West Street Energy Partners in December 2016 acquired it from Baker Hughes which retained a 46.4 percent ownership stake.

BJ Services traces its roots to 1872, when Byron Jackson, a leader of the American Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 20th Century, formed the Byron Jackson Co. in Woodland, Calif. It was there where he designed and built the first centrifugal deep-well turbine pump, allowing large volumes of water to be pumped from deep underground reservoirs.

The move to Clinton County will better support “our growing business in the Marcellus and Utica natural gas basins,” Pyner said.

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