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.
"In every 10-year period, there are high points and low points. The Marcellus Shale is the high point right now," said Nitro, W.Va.-based Apex Pipeline President and Chief Executive Officer S. Kelly Moss.
Moss said steel pipelines - including those to be built by his company and others - are planned to run in counties such as Marshall, Ohio, Wetzel, Monongalia, Marion and Lewis. An additional 60 miles of pipelines are set to run in the southern portion of West Virginia, bringing the total to 310 miles of lines. He said about 3,200 temporary construction jobs will result.
Nitro, W.Va.-based Apex Pipeline is laying pipe for natural gas companies throughout West Virginia. President and Chief Executive Officer S. Kelly Moss said 250 miles of gas pipelines are planned for construction in northern West Virginia.
Moss said his company builds lines to transmit the gas from the wellhead to a natural gas processing facility, such as the Caiman Energy site near Cameron or the planned Dominion Resources plant along the Ohio River south of Moundsville.
Once the gas is at these facilities, the natural gas liquids - ethane, propane, butane and pentane - are stripped from it, allowing it to go to market.
Apex is working in Tyler and Wetzel counties on a pipeline for Magnum Hunter Resources. With about 200 employees, the union contractor is also working for EQT Corp. and Caiman Energy in other parts of the state.
We are at capacity," Moss said, noting his company plans to hire more employees.
Moss said his workers earn $50,000 to $250,000 a year, with full benefits.
Pipeline contracts, or right-of-way agreements, are deals with surface owners, rather than mineral owners. Many West Virginia and Ohio residents only own the surface on which their homes or farms sit, while someone else owns the mineral rights.
Moss said his company does not negotiate the right-of-way contract with the landowner - they leave that job to the gas companies.
These lines are going to be meant to last for multiple generations," he said. "I don't think there will be any above-ground pipelines here. It is safer to bury them, and it disturbs the surface owner less because they can just work over it once it is buried."
Moss said when his workers come to install pipelines, they are required to stay in the area specifically covered by the right-of-way agreement. He said they may need to clear trees, for which the landowner may be compensated if they include it in their contract.
We try to limit the impact to the landowner as much as possible," he added.
Tim Greene, owner of Land and Mineral Management of Appalachia, said pipelines will carry gas from Marcellus Shale wells to a compressor station before taking it to the marketplace.
He said they could be as narrow as 4 inches in diameter to a wide as 36 inches.
Green is working to form a group of property owners, which could give them more negotiating power with the gas companies. He said right now, local surface owners are generally unhappy with the amounts gas companies are offering.
Right now, they are only offering $25 per foot for two pipelines," he said. "Some of the surface owners don't like how they are being treated."
Green believes surface owners should get "at least $35-$40 per foot" for a pipeline running across their property.
We just want people to get a fair price," he added.