MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Columbia Pipeline Group will be putting $1.75 billion into natural gas infrastructure designed to support Marcellus and Utica shale gas production areas in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Officials with the NiSource subsidiary made the announcement on Tuesday.
One of the two main projects within the new investments is the proposed Ohio and West Virginia pipeline — referred to as Columbia Transmission’s Leach XPress project — which will cover 160 miles and include supporting compression and related facilities.
“We need more infrastructure to meet the current demand of our producers and our customers,” Scott Castleman, spokesperson for Columbia, told MetroNews. “It will stretch from Marshall County, West Virginia to southeastern Ohio and be able to deliver 1.5 billion cubic feet (of natural gas) per day.”
Castleman said three compressor stations are planned for the pipeline and one of those stations will be in Marshall County.
The Tomblin Administration applauded the announcement.
“These are big investments. In fact, I think it might be one of their largest investments ever,” said Keith Burdette, state Commerce Secretary, of the plans. “This particular pipeline actually will provide us an opportunity to continue to expand the Marcellus field in West Virginia and maximize that opportunity.”
Castleman said, once in operation, the planned pipeline would add to the capacity for Columbia Transmission’s system and connect regional gas supplies to additional markets. The product from Marshall County will eventually be hooked to the company’s other lines in Kentucky.
Commerce Secretary Burdette said the state’s resources are paying off in big ways.
“There’s no way we can consume that all here (all the gas being produced) if we built for a long, long time,” Burdette said. “So in order to be able to take advantage of the market, they’ve got to get that natural gas somewhere else.”
Castleman said the project will produce construction jobs, but there are also more permanent jobs available with the company.
“We’ve had to beef up our staff from engineers to project managers to project schedulers,” he said. “These type of projects and the increase in demand in natural gas has generated a lot of opportunities for people in this region to find high-paying jobs right here at home.”
A second planned project would provide additional capacity through Columbia Gulf’s Rayne XPress project which spans a corridor from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Appalachia.
According to information from Columbia Pipeline Group, the company has already started reaching out to affected communities with a goal of starting construction work on both projects in 2016. Castleman said there would be open house events in Marshall County once the path for the underground pipeline is determined.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will oversee environmental reviews of the two projects.