TRIADELPHIA - Anyone traveling along Battle Run Road in Ohio County is sure to notice that Chesapeake Energy's natural gas pipeline network is quickly emerging.
The driller and its pipeline-building affiliates still have work to do in securing all the right-of-way agreements necessary to build all lines needed to transport methane, ethane, butane, propane, pentane and other substances out of Ohio County, but pipeliners are rapidly building lines along Battle Run Road and Dement Road to ship gas out of the multiple wells Chesapeake has drilled through this area.
Once the lines are in place, area mineral owners should be able to cash in on their gas leases.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Despite some early difficulties gaining right-of-way agreements, Chesapeake Energy’s affiliates are quickly building natural gas pipelines throughout Ohio County. This line is being built near the intersection of Battle Run and Dement roads.
"I guess they are not having as much trouble as they were having awhile back," said Tim Greene, owner of Land and Mineral Management of Appalachia and a former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection oil and gas inspector. "They've got those lines going in. They are pretty big."
Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland said these lines are "part of the normal pipeline construction we've been doing throughout Ohio County."
Chesapeake - the only company with active drilling operations in West Virginia's three northernmost counties - recently sold its stock in the officially independent pipeline company known as Chesapeake Midstream Partners to a firm named Global Infrastructure Partners. Among GIP's listed partners are former employees of General Electric and Credit Suisse.
Appalachia Midstream is a division of Chesapeake Midstream. Ohio County Clerk's Office records show this company has acquired several rights of way.
"Appalachia Midstream Services requires all contractors excavating on its behalf to call 811, the national one-call number, before construction commences to ensure underground utilities are marked to prevent damage," Bland emphasized.
"Those are gathering lines, not transmission ones," she added of the lines in the Battle Run area.
Transmission lines are ones that lead to, for example, an interstate pipeline to carry gas across the nation. Gathering lines carry the gas from the wellheads to a processing plant or compressor station, from which it will then go to the transmission lines.
Among other wells, Chesapeake's Didriksen well is very close to the location of these emerging gathering lines. Chesapeake is also building a Battle Run compressor station at a site on the north side of Interstate 70 near the Truck Stops of America at Dallas Pike, roughly 2 miles east of The Highlands. Chesapeake, in a legal advertisement earlier this year, noted it has the "potential to discharge" various air pollutants from the Battle Run compressor station.
Last week, Greene said he believed Chesapeake and the companies that build pipelines to transport the driller's gas were still having a hard time gaining the right-of-way agreements to build the lines, largely because some landowners believe they did not get a fair deal on the lease agreements for the gas. The pipeline contract is a deal with the surface owner, rather than the mineral owner. Some West Virginia and Ohio residents only own the surface on which their home or farm sits, while someone else owns the mineral rights.
"If you are just a surface owner, you are getting shut out on the gas altogether. You may see the pipeline as a way to get the most you can out of the situation," Greene said.
Greene also said pipelines - which will stretch for thousands of miles - will carry the gas from wells to a compressor station before taking it to the marketplace. He said they could be as narrow as 4 inches in diameter to as wide as 36 inches. He said an important matter to consider in a pipeline agreement is whether the company will have to bury the pipeline under the ground or run it along the surface.
"It really would benefit people, I think, to get together to see what kind of deals they are getting for the pipelines. That way, you could see what a fair price is," Greene added.
Pipeline installation may not come without problems, however. Recently, George Lagos, general manager and chief operator for Marshall County Public Service District No. 4, said that pipeliners - including some working for Dominion - in his district have been busting rural waterlines and leaving them exposed to sunlight. Lagos emphasized he has multiple pipeliners moving around his district's waterlines on a daily basis.