NORTH JACKSON - The limited pipeline infrastructure of Trumbull County and northeast Ohio will quickly be overwhelmed by the development expected in the natural gas and oil industry, BP officials said Monday.
Some existing pipelines can be accessed, but the energy giant, which plans to begin drilling 10 experimental wells by April in Trumbull County, is spending time determining what is necessary for the long term.
''We would have to look to expand the existing infrastructure in order to manage the product,'' said BP's Ohio Operations Manager Joe Uppercue.
''Significant infrastructure is going to be required to bring the initial products to market,'' echoed Bruce Abbuhl, BP Ohio Project Manager. ''The limited infrastructure will quickly outpace the development.''
Infrastructure isn't the only development proposed by BP and other oil producers tapping into the mineral reserves of Ohio's Utica Shale.
Energy company partnerships with midstream processing plants are being explored for Trumbull County, and already are planned and under construction in Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
Tribune Chronicle photo / Brenda Linert
Joe Uppercue, Ohio operations manager for BP, shows the company’s new office space in North Jackson.
The possibility for construction of such a plant in Trumbull County is very real, the BP officials said Monday, but noted any talk is extremely preliminary.
''There could be,'' Abbuhl said. ''It's too early for us to say. We are talking to a number of midstream companies.''
For now, Abbuhl and Uppercue are focusing on the appraisal stage of drilling in the Utica Shale. That will include exploratory drilling to analyze things like thickness and quality of the shale.
Leases for more than 84,000 acres of mineral rights in Trumbull County, signed with BP in March, carry five-year primary terms. That gives the company time to explore the area and move forward with plans. By next year, the officials said they expect to have invested $100 million in Trumbull County drilling.
Drilling the initial wells has been a slow process for BP, largely because this is the company's first work in the Marcellus and Utica Shale areas, so developing relationships with contractors and suppliers have taken time.
New leases still are being negotiated, and relationships with contractors are still being sought.
''BP is working really hard to use local providers for whatever services we need,'' Abbuhl said.
Contractors interested in offering services can get more information on BP's web site, Uppercue said.
''We are just happy to be here. This is a milestone,'' Abbuhl said.
They are so pleased, in fact, that the company has leased 43,000 square feet of office and warehouse space here that will be used as the company's Utica Operations Center.
The Youngstown Commerce Park location will serve the company for at least three years, with options to renew the lease for at least another six years. Title searchers doing mineral rights research in Trumbull County for now will remain in a downtown Warren office in the Chase Bank Building, but BP officials said they felt it was vital to be more centrally located as the company looks to expand drilling operations in several counties south of Trumbull County. The new office location also provides quick access to Interstates 76 and 80, the officials said.