Is the Appalachian NGL Storage Hub Close to Reality?

A pair of recent stories shows that progress is being made with respect to building an ethane (NGL) storage hub somewhere in the Marcellus/Utica region. In fact, progress is being made on two such facilities. Appalachia Development Group is leading an effort to get a $10 billion NGL (primarily ethane) storage hub established in Appalachia–most likely in West Virginia (see WV’s US Senators Lead the Charge to Build $10B NGL Storage Hub). Federal loan guarantees are in the works for that massive project and an engineering firm has been hired. Meanwhile, Mountaineer NGL Storage is planning a smaller facility in Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see Final State Permits Expected Soon for OH Mountaineer NGL Storage). The Colorado company behind the Mountaineer NGL project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it. Some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane, and the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. But that may not be all! According to Katie Klaber, former president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and principal of The Klaber Group, “We may not end up seeing just one storage hub, but instead it will be some interconnected groups of pipelines and storage.” In other words, we may see even more such facilities. It certainly appears that major progress is being made on the two named projects…
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Final State Permits Expected Soon for OH Mountaineer NGL Storage

Some new details have emerged with respect to the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility proposed for Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia. What did we know about the proposed project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. Last November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). Why the delay? Because of regulators in Ohio. At the “Emerging Opportunities Ohio Valley Conference” held yesterday in WV, Mountaineer NGL president David Hooker provided an update and some new-to-us details about the project. He said his company will file paperwork for “final state permits” in March. While “not a lot has changed” with Ohio regulators dragging their feet, here’s something that has changed. In order to pump out the NGLs from the underground storage cavern, brine (salty water) will be pumped down the bore hole, to force the NGLs back up to the surface. Original plans called for a single brine pond to store the liquid when it’s at the surface, waiting to be used. New plans call for two brine ponds. So far Mountaineer has spent $20 million on the project. If everything gets approved and demand develops as expected, the plan is to spend up to $130 million, which will build enough infrastructure to store 3 million barrels of NGLs. However, there is also a stretch goal of investing up to $500 million to store 10 million barrels. Here’s an update from our friends at Kallanish Energy, who attended yesterday’s event…
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Ohio Continues to Drag Feet Approving Mountaineer NGL Storage

We’ve written plenty about Mountaineer NGL Storage hub project proposed for Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). What do we know about the proposed project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. In November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). Why the delay? The delay is because of regulators in Ohio. There is no one agency charged with reviewing and issuing permits for the entire project–it involves three OH agencies. There also seems to be an issue with one of the agencies, the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), becoming comfortable with storing NGLs in a salt cavern (done all the time in other locations). ODNR is dragging its feet, and members of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) are beginning to publicly voice their dissatisfaction with the delays…
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Mountaineer NGL Wants to be THE Appalachian Storage Hub

When the topic of NGL (natural gas liquids) storage comes up with respect to the Marcellus/Utica region, there are two separate and distinct projects mentioned: A massive, $10 billion ethane/NGL storage hub with no specific location identified as yet (but West Virginia often named), and the much smaller Mountaineer NGL storage hub proposed for Monroe County, OH. Recently none other than the U.S. Dept. of Energy issued an NGL primer to call attention to the need for a large NGL storage hub (see DOE Publishes NGL Primer for Marcellus/Utica, Pushes NGL Storage). The Mountaineer project was mentioned in the DOE report. We’ve written plenty about Mountaineer NGL, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). What do we know about the proposed Mountaineer NGL Storage project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and both the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. In November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). We are on record having previously said this: “Could the Mountaineer NGL Storage project end up being THE main NGL project for the entire region, being touted by so many? No. But it is an important project–one of the key pieces of the NGL storage puzzle that will serve our region.” It appears Mountaineer may not agree with our take. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Business Times, Mountaineer makes it clear they want to be THE NGL storage hub for the Marcellus/Utica region. Instead of building a huge $10B project from the start, Mountaineer’s strategy is to grow slow but steady–responding to market conditions along the way. Mountaineer says that’s how it was done in Texas, and that’s how they believe it can (and should) be done in our region…
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DOE Publishes NGL Primer for Marcellus/Utica, Pushes NGL Storage

The Trump Dept. of Energy is hopping on the natural gas liquids storage bandwagon. Yesterday the DOE published a 45-page report called, “Natural Gas Liquids Primer: With a Focus on the Appalachian Region” (full copy below). The DOE uses its own data along with data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (our favorite government agency) to create an up-to-date picture of Appalachian NGL supply, demand, and infrastructure. What does that picture show? It shows we are in desperate need of our own regional NGL storage facilities. No doubt one of the reasons for the report is to goose China into investing in a proposed $10 billion NGL storage plan being pushed by many (see Tyler County, WV Mentioned as Candidate for $10B NGL Storage Hub). The report gives an important shout-out to the Mountaineer NGL Storage project. The report is a primer–it runs through the basics of NGLs (what they are, why they’re important). The DOE says this report is an important first step in preparing a more comprehensive report requested by Congress about the benefits of Marcellus/Utica NGLs. That comprehensive report will be ready sometime next year. In the meantime, this report will give you an important foundation of knowledge…
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Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH

Over the past six months we’ve run a steady string of stories about Mountaineer NGL Storage and its proposed underground NGL (mostly ethane) storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). We’ve learned that the Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it, that 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane, and that both the nearby potential PTT Global cracker plant and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. We’ve also learned there is a holdup with some of the necessary permits for the project before construction can begin–a situation that has delayed construction until mid-next year. This morning we ran across yet another update. This one goes into more detail about the permit situation, explaining where the holdup is happening (with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources’ chief Rick Simmers). The update also introduces us to a new spokesman for the project, a local who will be the project’s feet on the street, meaning we’ll likely hear a lot more about the project in the coming weeks and months…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Spending Up to $500M on Ethane Facility

Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). The project, which will store primarily ethane but also propane and butane, still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond. At a recent industry event, Mountaineer CEO David Hooker said 20 drillers are interested in storing ethane at the facility, when it gets built (see Mountaineer NGL Says 20 Drillers Interested in Ethane Storage). Hooker keeps the NGL storage project front and center in the news. Yesterday he announced plans to spend an initial $150 million, and potentially as much as $500 million, to build the facility. To the best of our recollection that’s the first time numbers have been offered for how much money it will take to fund the project. Hooker also gave a new timeline for the project, saying he expects all permits to be in hand “within the first six months of 2018,” and after that, construction will begin…
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Mountaineer NGL Says 20 Drillers Interested in Ethane Storage

For some time we’ve had our eye on a project to store ethane in underground caverns in Ohio. Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). As we reported in April, the company need customers to sign up to use the facility–a minimum of 1 million barrels of storage would get it going (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). Mountaineer still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out the stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond, which (in June) we said would likely to take “a few more months.” Strike that. The CEO of the project recently said he now does not expect to get those permits until “first or second quarter of next year” (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Project Delayed Until 2018). Mountaineer CEO David Hooker recently spoke at the Utica Summit V in North Canton. Here’s the latest he shared about this important project…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Project Delayed Until 2018

Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). As we reported in April, the company need customers to sign up to use the facility–a minimum of 1 million barrels of storage would get it going (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). Mountaineer still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out the stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond, which (in June) we said would likely to take “a few more months.” Strike that. The CEO of the project recently said he now does not expect to get those permits until “first or second quarter of next year.” He hastens to add that’s no problem, because his two biggest potential customers–the Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County, PA and the closer-by PTT Global Chemical cracker in Belmont County, OH, won’t be ready to start using ethane until 2020 at the earliest…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Connecting w/3 Pipelines Under Ohio River

The president of the company looking to build the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River says operating the facility close to the Ohio River is safe and “is not rocket science.” Last week West Virginia University researchers released a report that the Marcellus/Utica region needs an ethane storage hub (see today’s companion story, WVU Appalachia Ethane Storage Hub Final Report – We Need it Bad). Most of the talk has been about a massive, $10 billion ethane storage facility to help feed cracker plants and other petrochemical facilities that will locate in our region. At the meeting last week, David Hooker, president of Energy Storage Ventures which wants to build the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility, made the point that his company is already working on what will likely be multiple NGL storage facilities. MDN has been following the Mountaineer NGL project. At least check in June, Mountaineer still needs customers to sign up, and they need more regulatory approvals from Ohio (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). We got an update last week from Hooker, including details new for us: the storage facility will connect with three pipelines running beneath the Ohio River…
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More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH

In May, MDN conveyed the news that it appears Mountaineer NGL Storage, which wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica), had, according to the story we read, begun construction (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Under Construction). Based on a later article, we stated that our older story was in error (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Not (Yet) Under Construction). In October 2016, Mountaineer drilled and completed a test well in the salt formation. But in April of this year, Mountaineer said construction had not yet begun due to problems with red tape (see Mountaineer NGL Storage in Monroe County, OH Caught in Red Tape). An interview with a company official said nobody has (as yet) signed on the dotted line to use the facility, and that is the holdup now. Which has been, more or less, confirmed at the recent Appalachian Storage Hub conference, held last week in Canonsburg, PA. After reading an account of Mountaineer’s comments at the event, we now believe we have a fuller, even more accurate picture. The situation is this: Yes, they need customers to sign up to use the facility (minimum of 1 million barrels of storage would get it going). In addition, Mountaineer still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out the stored NGLs. Mountaineer is still waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond, likely to take a few more months. So they need customers, and they need more regulatory approvals…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Not (Yet) Under Construction

In May MDN conveyed the news that it appears Mountaineer NGL Storage, which wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica), had, according to the story we read, begun construction (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Under Construction). Based on a new article (below), we believe that older story was in error. In October 2016, Mountaineer drilled and completed a test well in the salt formation (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Test in OH a Success, Construction in 2017). But in April of this year, Mountaineer said construction had not yet begun due to problems with red tape (see Mountaineer NGL Storage in Monroe County, OH Caught in Red Tape). A new interview with a company official who says nobody has (yet) signed on the dotted line to use the facility, and that is the holdup now…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Under Construction

We spotted a story that makes reference to an ethane storage facility currently under construction in Monroe County, OH. That got our attention. The story said that Energy Storage Ventures has plans to begin storing ethane in the underground facility by the end of 2018. Who’s Energy Storage Ventures? We went looking and discovered it’s another name for the Mountaineer NGL Storage project that we’ve been covering. In April 2016, Mountaineer NGL Storage (aka Energy Storage Ventures) announced an open season for a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). The open season was a success, and in October 2016, Mountaineer completed a test well in the salt formation (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Test in OH a Success, Construction in 2017). But the last word we had on the project, in April of this year, said that construction had not yet begun due to problems with red tape (see Mountaineer NGL Storage in Monroe County, OH Caught in Red Tape). Yet this new story says, “contractors continue working to build the caverns required for storing up to 168 million gallons of ethane and other natural gas liquids more than one mile underground.” Which we take to mean there is active work going on at the site. That, for us, is new news–that the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility is *currently* under construction…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Test in OH a Success, Construction in 2017

Mountaineer NGL StorageIn April of this year, Mountaineer NGL Storage announced an open season for a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). Natural gas liquids (NGLs), including ethane, would be stored at the facility. It is a key, missing component in a plan to build at least one, and likely more than one ethane cracker plants in the region. Storage facility for both natural gas and NGLs is a critical part of natural gas infrastructure. Mountaineer recognized the fact that the Marcellus/Utica will need such a storage facility. A month after the open season, Mountaineer announced it was successful and that they would move forward with the project (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Open Season Successful, Development Begins). An important, initial step in building such a storage facility has now taken place. Mountaineer completed a test well in the salt formation–testing it for thickness. The test was a success. Construction is planned for the latter part of next year…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Open Season Successful, Development Begins

Mountaineer NGL StorageIn April MDN brought you the news that Mountaineer NGL Storage launched a non-binding open season for drillers who want to reserve storage capacity in a new underground storage facility to be built in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). Good news. The open season was a success–with requests for more than three times what Mountaineer had planned to offer, at least to start. Therefore the project, which is backed by investment bank Goldman Sachs, will begin development this month, although the project won’t go online until 2018…
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New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica

Mountaineer NGL StorageNGLs, or natural gas liquids, are the “other” hydrocarbons that come out of the ground along with methane, or natural gas. The most common NGLs that come out of Marcellus and Utica boreholes in southwestern PA, eastern OH and northern WV are ethane, propane and butane. Ever so gradually new markets are opening up to sell NGLs. Right now for many drillers in the region ethane, the most common NGL, actually costs drillers to dispose of. It is an expense. But ethane could be used to feed cracker plants and so much more! Pipelines are beginning to cart NGLs to other regions like Canada, the Gulf Coast and (now) to the Philadelphia area where the NGLs can either be used in petrochemical plants or exported to be used in petchem plants overseas. But what if drillers had a way of storing NGLs until they could get access to pipelines or rail or new petchem plants to use it? That’s the premise behind a brand new startup called Mountaineer NGL Storage. Started by a group of industry veterans and backed with big money from Goldman Sachs, Mountaineer NGL Storage is developing a new underground storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River. Yesterday the company announced a non-binding open season for drillers who want to reserve storage capacity in the new facility when it goes live sometime in 2018…
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