By CASEY JUNKINS
PINE GROVE, W.Va. - Magnum Hunter Resources is planning to send natural gas under the Ohio River from eastern Ohio for processing at the now operational MarkWest Energy Mobley site in Wetzel County.
"With the initial plant now online and expansions well under way, our producer customers now have the infrastructure needed to efficiently develop their prolific Marcellus Shale acreage in northern West Virginia," said Frank Semple, chairman, president and chief executive officer of MarkWest. "The initial Mobley project presented a significant challenge because of the remote location and mountainous terrain."
The 200-million-cubic-feet per-day MarkWest plant will process wet Marcellus and Utica shale gas - which contains ethane, propane, butane and pentane, in addition to the dry methane portion of the gas stream. This means that producers like Magnum Hunter, EQT Corp. and others sending this gas to MarkWest can realize a greater return on investment than they would by drilling in the methane-dominated dry gas regions of eastern Pennsylvania.
In natural gas processing, the dry methane part of the gas stream is separated from the ethane, butane, propane and pentane, which are collectively known as natural gas liquids. During fractionation, the NGL and other substances are separated from each other. These separated gas products are then ready for use, with the ethane possibly going to a cracker plant.
The NGL recovered at Mobley is being transported to the 60,000 barrels per-day Houston, Pa. fractionation complex, where they are separated into valuable purity products and marketed on behalf of producer customers.
MarkWest has been operating a processing facility at Majorsville in eastern Marshall County for the past few years. The company also is building a $500 million plant just outside Cadiz, some of which came on-line to process Gulfport Energy gas last month.
In addition, MarkWest is developing a second processing complex in Noble County. The Harrison and Noble processing complexes will be connected through a gathering system to the Harrison fractionation complex, which will include 100,000 barrels per day of fractionation capacity by early 2014.
Magnum Hunter officials affectionately refer to the company's Marcellus and Utica operations as the "Magnum Rich" region. The company drills wells locally under the Triad Hunter division in Monroe, Wetzel and Tyler counties.
"We are excited about the startup of the Mobley gas processing facility. The liquids uplift from this facility will allow us to immediately increase our production, reserves and cash flow," James Denny, president of Triad Hunter, commented.
Another one of Magnum Hunter's divisions, Eureka Hunter, has been boring under the Ohio River to connect the Ohio wells to the West Virginia processing plant.
The Ohio River bore will extend the 20-inch "Pursley Lateral" from Wetzel County into Monroe County near Sardis. The crossing enables Eureka to expand its footprint to include gathering of Utica and Marcellus production in Monroe and Washington counties in Ohio.
"Gas processing service at Mobley and firm downstream pipeline capacity should allow Triad Hunter and other producers to increase production and throughput on the Eureka Hunter pipeline system. Additional increases in production are anticipated through the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2013," according to information from Magnum Hunter in predicting increased shale production next year.
Eureka is planning an extensive pipeline network expansion during 2013 for Utica and Marcellus gathering and processing in Ohio.