MarkWest Liberty Midstream and Resources

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A May, 2009 report stated that Mark West Energy and NGP Midstream & Resources LP (M&R), now known as Energy and Minerals Group, closed a joint venture known as MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources. It is to focus on construction and operation of midstream services in support of Marcellus shale gas production for its customers. It is 40 percent owned by M&R and 60 percent by MarkWest and operated by the latter. MarkWest contributed roughly $100 million of its existing Marcellus assets. M&R will contribute $200 million which is roughly the amount needed to fund the project during 2009. MarkWest will invest yet another $200 million by the end of 2011.


New developments for its MarkWest Liberty joint venture

* a new cryogenic plant with throughput of 30 Mmcf/d in southwestern 
 Pennsylvania. (Update: August, 2009 - start-up announced)
* a new 80 to 100 Mmcf/d refrigeration plant by year-end-2009. 
* a 120 Mmcf/d cryogenic processing plant in early 2010 in Houston, PA.
* a second 120 Mmcf/d cryogenic plant roughly 30 miles SW of Houston. 
Also, it already operates:
* (Update: August, 2009) a mechanical refrigeration processing plant with 
  capacity of 40 Mmcf/d. 
* six compressor stations. 
* three more compressor stations to be added by year-end-2009.
MarkWest planed to build natural gas liquids (NGL) infrastructure:
* pipeline capacity
* storage
* rail car and truck loading facility
MarkWest Liberty compressor station in Washington Co., PAPhoto credit - Josephine Sabillon
MarkWest Liberty compressor station in Washington Co., PA
Photo credit - Josephine Sabillon

Majorsville, WV Gas Processing Plant

September, 2009 found MarkWest Liberty forming a strategic alliance with Chesapeake Energy and Statoil-Hydro to process gas gathered and collected from the latter two company's Marcellus shale wells in Marshall and Wetzel counties in northern West Virginia. The gas is to be processed at a new plant MarkWest Liberty had been building adjacent to an existing compression facility operated by Columbia Natural Gas. The new plant was to be located on the West Virginia - Pennsylvania border in Majorsville about a dozen miles southeast of Wheeling, WV.

Update #1: The JV announced in April, 2010 that it planned to expand the capacity of its Majorville facility to 270 Mmcf/d by the third quarter of 2011.

MarkWest Liberty had also been planning a 37,000 bbl/d fractionation plant at their existing Houston, PA complex. The Majorsville plant was to have a connecting pipeline to the Houston one from where the gas is to be marketed as hydrocarbon liquids to eastern U.S. metropolitan areas.

Update #2: Range Resources Corp. announced in December, 2009 that 120 Mmcf/d of cryogenic natural gas processing capacity had come online in Washington County along with 20 miles of additional gathering and residue gas pipelines and 21,000 horsepower of additional compression. This brought Range's overall capacity up to 180 Mmcf/d. This appears to have been the aforementioned plant planned for Houston, PA.

Update #3: In April, 2010 the company announced that it planned to increase the design capacity of its Houston fractionation plant to 60,000 bbl/d. It was to provide fractionation facilities for up to 1.5 Bcf/d. of natgas. Natural gas liquids (NGLs) were to be stored there and sold into eastern markets. The expansions in Majorsville and Houston were to be based upon new agreements with gas producers.

A March, 2010 company update noted that since mid-2008 MarkWest had installed almost 70 miles of high-pressure and low-pressure gathering pipelines in the wet gas areas of southwestern Pennsylvania. At the time, it considered itself to be the largest provider of gathering pipeline services and gas processing operating in the Marcellus shale region. MarkWest was gathering 80 Mmcf/d at the end of 2009. A few months later in March, 2010 it was gathering 100 Mmcf/d. This update also announced that a second cryogenic gas processing plant had come online. Presumedly, it was the previously mentioned 120 Mmcf/d plant planned for 30 miles southwest of the Houston one.

Gas transmission lines disappear underground in Washington Co., PAPhoto credit - Josephine Sabillon
Gas transmission lines disappear underground in Washington Co., PA
Photo credit - Josephine Sabillon

In addition, the March update mentioned that a third and fourth cryogenic plant were also planned:

  • 120 Mmcf/d in Majorsville to be online later in 2010.
  • 200 Mmcf/d in Houston to come online in early 2010.

After completion of all of the above plants, MarkWest's total cryogenic gas procession capacity was to rise to 475 Mmcf/d. (Note: This may somewhat understate the total planned capacity considering Update #1 above.) The update also mentioned that the 37,000 bbl/d fractionation facility mentioned previously was expected to come online in early 2011. By the end of 2010 MarkWest was expecting to have invested with its partners in excess of $700 million in Marcellus shale natgas transportation and processing. MarkWest's net share of the total during 2009 had been $110 million. In 2010, it planned to invest an additional net $230 million.

West Virginia Processing Plant

In May, 2010 a joint venture was announced with NiSource for gathering, processing and transporting Marcellus shale production in northern West Virginia. The natgas was to be transported to a new MarkWest Liberty processing plant planned for the Wetzel Co., WV town of Smithville. This plant was to have a capacity of 120 Mmcf/d. NiSource has extensive gathering pipelines in the northern West Virginia counties of Doddridge, Marshall, and Wetzel. Natgas was also to be gathered and transported by companies unaffiliated with the joint venture to Smithville from the West Virginia counties of Harrison, Marion, Pleasants and Tyler.

The Mariner Project

In early-June, 2010 another joint venture was announced; this time it was with Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to build a combined pipeline and marine project for ethane produced in the Marcellus shale. The project was to have capacity to transport 50,000 bbl/d of ethane to Gulf Coast markets. It was scheduled to go online as early as the second quarter of 2012. The project involved making modifications to Liberty's Houston, PA gas liquids processing plant and building a 45 mile pipeline to interconnect with a Sunoco pipeline in Delmont, PA. From there the ethane was to be transported via pipeline to a newly-built ethane refrigeration plan on the Delaware River near Philadelphia where it was to be cooled and loaded on to marine vessels for delivery to markets on the Gulf Coast. Chesapeake Energy and Range Resources were sponsoring the project.

Second deal with Sunoco

In March, 2011 MarkWest Liberty again made plans to collaborate with Sunoco Logistics Partners--this time to repurpose an existing Sunoco pipeline in order to transport ethane from western Pennsylvania to a petrochemical complex located in Sarnia, Ontario. Up to 65,000 bbl/d were to flow through this pipeline. The project was expected to go online during the third quarter of 2012. MarkWest was to build a 25 mile pipeline to interconnect with an existing Sunoco one for transporting ethane to Sarnia. This project appears to parallel the Kinder Morgan Marcellus lateral project.

  • Scott Garner is MarkWest Vice President of Joint Venture and Corporate


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