Pipeline to run to Gulf

MOUNDSVILLE – More than 200,000 barrels of ethane, propane, butane and other forms of natural gas liquids could be shipped from the Upper Ohio Valley to the Gulf Coast via the planned Bluegrass Pipeline, according to information released this week.

The joint venture between Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and Williams Partners, which gathers and processes gas for numerous companies, could transport increased capacity of up to 400,000 barrels per day, based on demand.

“In turn, this will help producers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia achieve an attractive value for their ethane and other liquids,” said Alan Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of Williams. “We are designing Bluegrass Pipeline to provide these two world-class resource plays with access to one of the largest and most dynamic petrochemical markets in the world.”

Because there is no ethane cracker in the Utica and Marcellus regions, some companies are already shipping the product for cracking in other regions. Others are simply burning it off via flaring, according to Corky DeMarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

The new project would accompany Chesapeake Energy’s plans to send 75,000 barrels of ethane produced from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions for cracking along the Gulf Coast on the soon-to-open ATEX Express pipeline.

Williams and Boardwalk hope to have the project in service by late 2015. Boardwalk plans to file an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by May 1.

“The current infrastructure challenge with natural gas liquids in the Northeast is slowing drilling and isolating liquids supplies from the robust markets in the Gulf that are poised to grow substantially over the next five years,” Armstrong added.

Plans call for pipelines that would transport the liquids from producing areas in West Virginia and Ohio, to a transmission system in Hardinsburg, Ky., where they would then connect to another transport system to Eunice, La. The proposal also calls for a processing plant to be built in Louisiana.

Casey Junkins is a staff writer for the (Wheeling) Intelligencer.