MPLX M-U Processing, Fractionation Plants Coming Online Soon

MPLX, formerly known as MarkWest Energy, recently released their second quarter 2019 update. There seems to be a new emphasis for MPLX on the Texas Permian play, which is detectable in the update. However, much of the company’s revenue continues to come from our region. A slide embedded deep in the Appendix of the latest slide deck tells an interesting story for us: Of the ten processing and fractionation plants MPLX is currently building or planning to build, six of them are in the Marcellus/Utica region. We have the list below.
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MPLX VP Says We Need NGL Storage, and We Need it NOW

Some interesting comments by Jim Crews, vice president of northeast business development for MPLX (formerly known as MarkWest Energy), during a presentation he gave at the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia’s (IOGAWV) Summer Meeting last week. Crews said lack of natural gas liquids storage is a crisis (our words, reflecting his sentiment). And we need storage not only here in the Marcellus/Utica region–but across the country. “We’re out of storage,” he said, and “Cargoes are just being given away.”
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MarkWest Gathered & Processed Volumes Thru the Roof in 1Q19

MarkWest Energy, now part of MPLX (Marathon Petroleum) operates the nation’s largest cryogenic gas processing plant operation in the country, the Sherwood Complex, in West Virginia (see Nation’s Biggest NatGas Processing Plant (in WV) Getting Bigger). MarkWest/MPLX released its quarterly update yesterday. The company has grown, a lot, with operations in multiple regions of the country. Our interest is, of course, the Marcellus/Utica. Gathered volumes in the M-U averaged 3.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 1Q19, up a huge 26% versus 1Q18. Processed volumes averaged 6.0 Bcf/d, an 18% increase over 1Q18 thanks to expanded volumes from the Sherwood (in Doddridge County, WV) and Harmon Creek (in Washington County, PA) processing plants.
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Nation’s Biggest NatGas Processing Plant (in WV) Getting Bigger

MarkWest Sherwood Complex

MarkWest Energy, now part of MPLX (Marathon Petroleum) operates the nation’s largest cryogenic gas processing plant operation in the country–in West Virginia. The Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV has the capacity to process up to 2.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natgas, along with fractionation (separating out ethane) of up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd). This year the facility will expand.
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Pittsburgh Panel Discusses Importance of NGL Storage

Seems like every few months there’s a meeting or conference somewhere in the Marcellus/Utica region that addresses the topic of ethane storage. Another such a meeting was held in Pittsburgh yesterday. The meeting was preparatory for the upcoming Northeast Petrochemical Exhibition and Conference to be held June 20-21 in Pittsburgh (must attend event!). As with other meetings like it, several NGL storage options were discussed.
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Marathon Considers Building NGL Storage Hub in Harrison County, OH

Some major news coming from yesterday’s Utica Midstream conference held in North Canton, Ohio. A rep from Marathon Petroleum (which is based in Ohio) told conference attendees his company is contemplating building an underground NGL storage facility in Harrison County, OH–to store ethane, butane and propane.
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MarkWest Energy’s “Extraordinary Results” in 2018

The company we call MarkWest Energy is technically MPLX, renamed after MarkWest was bought out and merged into Marathon Petroleum in December 2015 (see Golden Parachutes Pop Open for MarkWest Top Management/Board). We still call it MarkWest because most people we know still call it that. It’s been over a month since MPLX/MarkWest issued its 2018 update, but we’d still like to analyze it. The company had a breakout year, earning more in 2018 than at any time in the company’s history.
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MarkWest Plant Explosion in Washington Co. Injures 4; 1 Critical

An explosion and fire last night around 6 pm at the MarkWest Energy natural gas processing plant in Chartiers (Washington County), PA sent four people to the hospital–carried there by helicopter. All of them remain hospitalized, and one of them is, sadly, in critical condition. The explosion happened near “two temporary tanks that were onsite for routine maintenance,” according to a MarkWest statement. The tanks hold, “liquid ethylene glycol plus hydrocarbons”–used to clean incoming raw natural gas. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection is on location today to determine what happened and why–and to ensure there have been no negative impacts to the environment.
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MarkWest 3Q18: Gathered Volumes and Profits Soar, M-U Expanding

Last week MPLX (i.e. MarkWest Energy) issued its third quarter 2018 update. MarkWest, since merging into Marathon Petroleum, has become a big, major player in a number of shale plays across the country. Our interest and focus is, of course, on the Marcellus/Utica. Did this recent update yield any interesting insights? It sure did! Gathered and processed volumes in the Marcellus/Utica are up, significantly, for MarkWest. The amount of gas (and NGLs) gathered in the M-U was up a huge 35% from the same period last year (3.1 Bcf/d), and processed volumes at MarkWest plants was up 10% year over year (5.5 Bcf/d). Here’s a look behind the curtain at MarkWest/MPLX.
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MarkWest/MPLX Floats $2.25B of Unsecured IOUs

From time to time we read about, and bring you news about, companies in our industry floating “notes”–what we call IOUs–a form of debt used to finance new spending or (in this case) refinance and pay off older debt. We’re not high finance experts, but it always looks to us like an elaborate shell game of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Just kick the debt can on down the road. But so many companies do it, there’s obviously some advantage. The latest, and biggest by far we’ve seen, is MPLX (MarkWest Energy). They just announced they are floating a whopping $2.25 billion of “unsecured senior notes.” MPLX will use $750 million of it to pay off older notes, and the rest to repay loans borrowed under the company’s revolving credit facility, and repay loans made to parent company Marathon Petroleum.
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MPLX $7M Fine/Settlement: Fix Air Pollution in PA-WV-OH-KY-TX-OK

MPLX, i.e. MarkWest Energy, has been slapped pretty hard by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, and several other state environmental agencies. Last Thursday the federal EPA serving as lead agency, announced a settlement with MPLX (and its various subsidiaries) to pay nearly $7 million in fines and corrective actions to cut down on air emissions at 21 of its plants in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Texas and Oklahoma. Of that total, $925,000 is a fine or “penalty” for violating clean air laws at the plants. The rest of the money will be spent on corrective actions to fix things and cut down on air emissions.
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MarkWest Plans to Build New Marcellus/Utica NGL Pipeline

Yesterday MarkWest Liberty NGL Pipeline, a subsidiary/part of MarkWest Energy (now MPLX since being bought out and merged into Marathon Petroleum in late 2015), announced plans to build a new NGL pipeline. MarkWest Liberty launched a binding open season for the new pipeline–a time when drillers can sign on the dotted line to reserve capacity along the new pipeline. The new NGL pipeline is a bit different than other NGL pipelines in the Marcellus/Utica. It will pick up NGLs from several of MarkWest’s gas processing plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cart the NGLs to fractionation facilities owned by MarkWest in PA and Ohio, where those NGLs will get separated into their discrete hydrocarbon components. Let us explain it this way: Step One is that the gas comes out of the ground. But it’s not all just methane–there’s a number of other hydrocarbons (natural gas liquids, or NGLs) mixed in with it, things like ethane, butane, propane, pentane. The raw mix goes to a cryogenic processing plant where the methane (i.e. natural gas) is separated out and sent on its way to market via pipelines like Rover and Rockies Express and others. Step Two: The NGLs need further separating. That’s what a fractionation plant does. This new pipeline from MarkWest Liberty (the Marcellus unit of MarkWest) will cart the mixed bag of NGLs to fractionation facilities. After being separated into component parts, the components can then be sold. Which fits with MarkWest’s prior statements that in 2018 they would focus on creating new markets for Marcellus/Utica NGLs, butane in particular (see MarkWest Building 6 New Processing Plants, 3 Fractionators in 2018). So, which processing plants will the pipeline connect to, and which fractionation plants? The announcement does not say, and there is no PDF document available with the details, at least not publicly. For that, you need to contact MarkWest directly. We do, however, have a map of MarkWest’s facilities…
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How MarkWest Gets Marcellus/Utica NGLs to Market

The Marcellus and Utica Shale layers in Southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio produce a boatload of NGLs–natural gas liquids. One company had the foresight to plan a strategy to separate, transport and sell those NGLs. That company was MarkWest Energy, now known as MPLX following a purchase by/merger into Marathon Petroleum. MarkWest’s plan is firing on all cylinders. The experts at RBN Energy have analyzed MarkWest’s initial strategy, now largely complete, and their long-term strategy, still in the works, to give us a great snapshot of how NGLs are moving from our region to Midwestern and Canadian markets…
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MarkWest Grows Marcellus/Utica Gathered Volume 46% in 2Q18

MarkWest Energy, now part of Marathon Petroleum, is the premier midstream company in Ohio and West Virginia. Yesterday MarkWest issued its second quarter 2018 update. MarkWest reported record income of $453 million compared with $190 million in the second quarter of 2017. Put another way, MarkWest made close to half a billion dollars in profit! What about MarkWest’s operations in the Marcellus/Utica region? There was “solid growth” during the quarter. Gathered volumes averaged 2.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) for the quarter, a 46% increase versus 2Q17. The increase came mostly from higher Utica dry-gas volumes. Processed volumes averaged 5.2 Bcf/d, a 10% increase versus 2Q17 due in large part to bringing online the Sherwood 9 and Houston 1 plants…
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More MarkWest Construction Under Way in Doddridge County, WV

MarkWest Energy – Sherwood Complex

MarkWest Energy’s Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV has been in operation since 2012. Since that time, MarkWest has built and currently operates nine processing plants at the complex, capable of separating methane from NGLs. The plant continues to grow. MarkWest is currently building another two processing plants at the Sherwood Complex, to be done and in operation this year. And if that isn’t enough, MarkWest says there is potential to build another six (!) processing plants at Sherwood. As we previously noted, Sherwood is right now the fourth largest gas processing plant in the U.S., and by the end of this year, it will be number one (see MarkWest Building 6 New Processing Plants, 3 Fractionators in 2018). One of the primary reasons for the rapid expansion at Sherwood is Antero Resources, which uses the Sherwood operation to service its vast WV drilling program. Needless to say, the ever-expanding Sherwood facility is a huge blessing, economically, to Doddridge County. Here’s a deep dive into future plans for Sherwood, and how the plant benefits the local community…
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1Q18 Midstream Potpourri: Williams, MarkWest, Summit, Tallgrass

Every three months publicly traded companies, including those with major operations in the Marcellus/Utica, issue a required quarterly update for stockholders. It’s often referred to as “earnings season.” We like to cull through the updates to share items of interest with MDN readers. For drilling companies we dedicate an entire post to each company. We typically don’t cover midstream (i.e. pipeline) companies as much. However, there are a number of important projects cooking with companies like Williams, MarkWest Energy (MPLX), Summit Midstream and Tallgrass (REX Pipeline). We culled through the press releases and analyst phone call transcripts to pick out comments and portions that we think are helpful in understanding where some of these important projects are, and how they impact the bottom line of said companies. Below is our 1Q18 midstream potpourri…
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