Work delayed on gas plant

NATRIUM, W.Va. – Though the site buzzes daily with construction activity, the $500 million Dominion Resources natural gas processing plant here is already three months behind schedule for opening.

The plant is now part of a $1.5 billion processing and transportation venture between Dominion and Caiman Energy known as Blue Racer Midstream. This network includes facilities across northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio that will move gas and liquids out of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

In the natural gas and oil industry, the term “midstream” broadly refers to pipelines that gather and transport gas and oil, processing plants, fractionators and compressor stations. With continued development, the system could eventually transport “at least 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day,” according to Blue Racer.

“I don’t have a firm start up date yet. It will be later this spring,” said Blue Racer spokeswoman Casey Nikoloric.

Throughout the plant’s construction along the Ohio River and W.Va. 2 in Marshall County, members of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation have been at odds with Dominion – as well as the company building the plant on Dominion’s behalf, Chicago Bridge & Iron – for not hiring more local workers to build the facility. Total on-site worker numbers have fluctuated from about 84 to nearly 1,000 over the past year.

Workers have installed railroad lines connecting the Natrium plant to the CSX Corp. line. Dominion spokesman Charles Penn said the company will use rail service to move its product.

The Natrium facility is expected to employ about 40 full-time, permanent workers paying $20 to $30 per hour upon completion.

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