Three companies have announced plans for a $1.3 billion pipeline to link emerging Utica Shale gas fields in eastern Ohio to energy companies and customers in the Midwest and beyond.
The 250-mile pipeline would originate in northeastern Ohio, connect with the existing Vector Pipeline in Michigan and complete its final leg into Canada, terminating at the Dawn Hub in Ontario, company officials said Wednesday.
Plans are preliminary, and it still remains unclear whether the line would pass through parts of the Mahoning Valley, sources said.
Construction of the line could mean significant economic benefits to Ohio through job creation and ongoing tax revenue, said Wendy Olson, spokeswoman for Spectra Energy in Houston, one of the three companies linked to the project. The other companies involved are Enbridge Energy Co. Inc. of Canada and Detroit-based DTE Energy.
''The bulk of the jobs will be during the construction phase, but there will be long-term positions associated with the project once it goes into service. Tax revenue will be an lasting benefit,'' Olson said.
Larry Springer, a senior manager at Enbridge, added that large pipeline projects such as this generally involve several hundred people during the construction phase.
Both Springer and Olson said it is too early in the process to have specific routes mapped.
The large-diameter pipeline would be capable of carrying 1 billion cubic feet of "dry" natural gas per day, according to a fact sheet released by Spectra Energy. The Nexus Gas Transmission System, which will cost $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion, could be in service by November 2015.
Officials said the next step will involve an ''open season'' during the fourth quarter of this year in which shippers can make commitments for capacity on the proposed pipeline. Those commitments will help the project team determine the ultimate scope of the project, which, in turn, would be reflected in the design of the pipeline, which could be 30- to 36-inch diameter.
If adequate commitments are received from shippers during the open season, the project will move to the design and permitting stage.
The project would require approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which would also approve the customer rates.
Information released by Spectra indicated the need for additional pipeline transportation infrastructure in the upper U.S. Midwest and eastern Canadian regions to support growing demand for clean-burning natural gas and to help offset the decline in traditional western Canadian supplies available to serve these markets.
The proposed pipeline would move needed supplies of Ohio Utica Shale natural gas to other high-demand markets. The new pipeline will serve local distribution companies, power generators and industrial users in these markets.
While increasing quantities of natural gas have recently begun to flood the market, some experts believe that trend will correct itself.
''The demand for natural gas will increase,'' said Terry Fleming, executive director for Ohio Petroleum Council, who was heading to Youngstown Wednesday afternoon to take part in today's Youngtown Ohio Utica & Natural Gas (Y.O.U.N.G.) conference and expo at the Youngstown Covelli Centre.
''You are going to see a lot of electric power plants switch from coal power to natural gas,'' Fleming said. He added that increased development of natural gas-powered vehicles also will drive the demand.
Ohio's burgeoning gas drilling industry is tied to hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting millions of gallons of chemically laced water into the earth to fracture shale formations and release oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids such as propane.
Natural gas drillers in Ohio are active in the eastern part of the state, going after deposits in the underground Utica Shale.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.