US MarkWest adding to shale-fuelled processing plant boom

07 May 2014 17:59 Source:ICIS News

Shale fuelled boomHOUSTON (ICIS)--MarkWest Energy plans to build two gas processing plants in the Marcellus shale play, each of which will have a capacity of 200 million cubic feet/day (200 mcf/day), the US-based midstream company said late on Tuesday.

MarkWest will add what will be its sixth processing plant at its Sherwood complex in Doddridge County in West Virginia, at the request of Antero Resources, the company said.

This sixth plant bringing the total capacity to 1.2 billion cubic feet/day (1.2 bcf/day) at the Sherwood complex, MarkWest said.

The company already has three processing plants operating at the complex, each of which has a capacity of 200 mcf/day.

Sherwood IV should start production in the second quarter of this year, while Sherwood V should start in the third quarter.

Sherwood VI, the one MarkWest announced on Tuesday, should start in the second quarter of 2015.

In addition, MarkWest plans to build a fifth processing plant its Mobley complex in Wetzel County, West Virginia, bringing the site's total capacity to 920 mcf/day.

This plant will have a capacity of 200 mcf/day, and it should start operations in Q2 2015, MarkWest said. The company is adding the plant at the request of EQT.

MarkWest already has three processing plants operating at Mobley for a combined capacity of 520 mcf/day, the company said.

Mobley IV should start in the fourth quarter, and it will add 200 mcf/day.

In addition to EQT, the Mobley complex also supports Magnum Hunter Resources, Stone Energy, CONSOL En4ergy and Noble Energy, MarkWest said.

MarkWest has been among the most aggressive companies to develop processing plants and fractionators in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

This year, the company expects to raise its total processing capacity in the northeast to 4 bcf/day and its fractionation capacity to 250,000 bbl/day, the company said.

MarkWest, though, is not the only company building processing plants and fractionators to handle increasing gas production in the Marcellus and Utica.

Blue Racer Midstream is developing its Natrium and Berne complexes.

Other sites in Ohio are being developed by Utica East Ohio Midstream, a joint venture made up of Access Midstream, M3 Midstream and EV Energy.

Pennant Midstream is developing its Hickory Bend complex in Ohio as well.

The fractionators built at these complexes will provide the ethane both for current and future crackers being built.

NOVA Chemicals is already cracking natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus at its cracker in Corunna, Ontario.

Enterprise Products has started delivering ethane from the northeast to Texas on its Appalachia to Texas (ATEX) Express pipeline.

INEOS has reached a 15-year agreement to ship ethane from the US east coast to its European crackers. The ethane would be supplied to the export terminals by the Mariner East pipeline.

INEOS may also import US ethane from a proposed terminal that Enterprise may build on the US Gulf coast.

Linde has started the front-end engineering and design (FEED) work for Shell's proposed ethane cracker in western Pennsylvania.

Odebrecht, Brazil's major contractor, is considering developing an ethane cracker and three polyethylene (PE) plants in a project called Ascent, short for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise.

Odebrecht would oversee Ascent’s investment and financing as well as the operation of water and electric utilities. Brazil-based Braskem would be responsible for petrochemical-related activities as well as the marketing of the PE.

Northeast NGLs could also find a new home if Williams resumes its proposed Bluegrass Pipeline project.

The company suspended investment in the project because it lacked firm customer commitments from NGL producers in the Marcellus and Utica.

By Al Greenwood