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Ohio Utica Shale

Utica East Ohio growing to handle McClendon's company

By Bob Downing Published: May 12, 2014

A gas-processing plant under construction in southwest Carroll County will soon be expanded.

That announcement came on Monday from Texas-based EV Energy Partners LP in a press release and an earnings call with analysts and the media.

The new plan calls for Utica East Ohio to expand the Leesville natural gas-processing plant with the addition of a second train or unit to process the natural gas from Ohio’s Utica shale.

That would double the plant’s capacity from 200 million to 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

The additional capacity, officials said, is needed to handle "new commitments" from existing customers: Chesapeake Energy, the No. 1 player in the Utica shale; Total, the French energy company; and EnerVest Ltd., the parent company of EV Energy Partners.

Those three companies are partners on about 660,000 acres in 10 counties in eastern Ohio. That joint venture has drilled 485 Utica wells, of which 274 are producing. Chesapeake plans to drill 180 wells this year and in future years, officials said.

The need for new capacity also grew because of a new agreement between Utica East Ohio and American Energy Partners, an Oklahoma-based energy company directed by former Chesapeake Energy CEO and founder Aubrey McClendon.

That long-term agreement will create what officials called "a 145,000-acre area of mutual interest" in the Utica shale between Utica East Ohio and a McClendon subsidiary, American Energy-Utica LLC.

The agreement also calls for the installation of 50 miles of gas-collecting lines and adding compression services to serve McClendon’s company.

The additional processing will boost Utica East Ohio overall capacity in the Utica shale from 800 million cubic feet per day to 1 billion cubic feet per day, officials said.

It operates a large processing plant at Kensington in southern Columbiana County that has two units that together handle from about 450 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

A third unit began test operations on April 24 and is scheduled to begin full operations on June 1 that will boost Kensington capacity to 600 million cubic feet per day. The plant will actually be handling up to 720 million cubic feet per day.

Utica East Ohio is owned 49 percent by Access Midstream Partners LP, 30 percent by M3 Midstream LLC and 21 percent by EnerVest Energy Partners, the publicly traded branch of privately held EnerVest Ltd. The three companies are behind Access Midstream.

The Utica East Ohio expansion plan also includes a high-pressure pipeline from the Harrison Hub in Scio to Cardinal Gas Services Archer Compression Facility in Harrison County.

New liquid pipeline connections and expanded propane and butane storage are planned at the Scio liquids-processing plant in northern Harrison County.

Details of the expansion including costs will be announced later, officials said.

The expansion will boost midstream through-put by 70 percent over current levels, officials said.

“Our investment in this expansion at UEO underscores our belief in the long-term viability of the Utica shale,” commented Mike Stice, CEO of Access Midstream. “This growth not only significantly increases our capacity but will improve access to downstream liquids markets. We are pleased to grow our partnership with M3 and EV Energy Partners and enhance our ability to continue providing excellent midstream solutions for our customers.”

In other news, EV Energy Partners and other companies are keeping a close eye on results from a drilled well in Tuscarawas County with more data expected this summer.

Chesapeake’s Parker well in Perry Township lies in the so-called oil window and may help companies figure out how to tap the Utica oil, said Mark Houser, executive vice president and chief operating officer of EnerVest.

Fracture methods including the volume of sand used were changed on that well and the results for oil looking promising, he said.

EV Energy Partners also has plans to drill additional wells for oil in the Stark-Tuscarawas area.

The company is continuing to pursue plans to sell off portions of its Utica holdings in Ohio, but no new deals have been finalized, Houser said.

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