MarkWest, EMG to develop 2-bcfd Utica dry gas gathering system

MarkWest Energy Partners LP and The Energy & Minerals Group (EMG) are developing a new 2-bcfd dry gas gathering system in the Utica shale. A fee-based contract with Ascent Resources–Utica LLC, a subsidiary of Ascent Resources LLC will underpin the system, dedicating roughly 100,000 gross acres in northern Belmont and Jefferson counties, Ohio. Growing dry gas production from Ascent’s acreage is expected to support the system’s initial growth, but the new system will also gather dry gas from other producers.

MarkWest estimates the system will comprise more than 250 miles of pipeline and 200,000 hp of compression. It expects initial operation by yearend. Takeaway options include connections to the Ohio River System, a gathering trunkline project delivering gas to Rockies Express pipeline, Texas Eastern Transmission through its new Ohio Pipeline Energy Network (OPEN) project, Energy Transfer Partner’s Rover pipeline, among others.

MarkWest and EMG, together with Summit Midstream Partners LLC, already operate the Ohio Gathering Co. LLC joint venture consisting of hundreds of miles of low- and high-pressure pipelines and numerous compressor stations throughout southeastern Ohio, including Harrison, Guernsey, Belmont, Noble, and Monroe counties.

Ohio Gathering over the past year has extended its rich gas footprint into dry gas development areas, beginning initial operations in mid-May of a dry gas gathering system in northern Monroe County and southern Belmont County, Ohio. It currently supports Gulfport Energy Corp. and Rice Energy, transporting more than 150 MMcfd of dry gas in addition to 600 MMcfd of rich gas.

MarkWest has more than 1.3 bcfd of gas processing and 160,000 b/d of fractionation in Ohio. Ascent is one of the largest pure-play Appalachian exploration and production companies with about 280,000 net acres in the Utica and Marcellus shales. Development of the new system will occur under a separate joint venture between MarkWest and EMG, which will be owned two-thirds by the former and one-third by the latter.

MarkWest last month agreed to merge with MPLX LP, a master limited partnership formed by Marathon Petroleum Corp., in a deal which will make MarkWest a wholly owned subsidiary of MPLX (OGJ Online, July 27, 2015).

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