KENSINGTON, Ohio - More than 1,700 construction workers built the now operational $900 million M3 Midstream natural gas processing complex that spans Harrison, Carroll and Columbiana counties.
"We are pleased to commission the first fully integrated natural gas processing and fractionation project in Ohio, and proud that these facilities have been built safely and in compliance with Ohio's environmental regulations," said M3 President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Tsuru.
The M3 facility joins a growing list of huge infrastructure investments in the Utica and Marcellus shale fields. These include:
Photo by Casey Junkins
The M3 Midstream complex stretches through Harrison, Carroll and Columbiana counties in Ohio.
The investments total more than $9 billion.
Chesapeake Energy originally partnered with M3 Midstream to build this plant, but Chesapeake spun off its processing subsidiary as Access Midstream. EV Energy Partners joins M3 and Access in the ownership group at the eastern Ohio complex.
"Completing the first stage of this project is an important milestone in advancing the development of the Utica Shale formation in Ohio, as wells can begin producing both natural gas and natural gas liquids, with this processing system getting those products an important step closer to homes, businesses and industrial users," said Tsuru.
In natural gas processing, the dry methane part of the gas stream is separated from the wet portions, such as ethane, butane, propane and pentane. During fractionation, the natural gas liquids 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 to become a component of plastic.
According to www.naturalgas.org, "Fractionation works based on the different boiling points of the different hydrocarbons in the natural gas liquids stream. Essentially, fractionation occurs in stages consisting of the boiling off of hydrocarbons one by one."
Officials said roughly 50 people will be employed to operate the M3 facility, while another 15 people will work at the rail terminal at the Scio plant.
At this point, the complex includes 63 miles of pipelines and gathering lines, the capacity to process 200 million cubic feet per day, and a 45,000 barrel per day fractionation plant at Scio.
"This heroic accomplishment was the direct result of a collaborative effort between Access and M3 to meet our upstream customer needs. Access provided the gathering and compression while M3 delivered on the processing and fractionation," said Access Midstream Chief Executive Officer Mike Stice.
Ultimately, the project will allow processing capacity of 800 million cubic feet per day, 135,000 barrels of liquids fractionation and 870,000 barrels of liquids storage.
"We are thrilled to be part of the midstream infrastructure development of the Utica Shale play," added Mark Houser, president and chief executive officer of EV Energy.