The pipe is there, waiting to be placed on top of the steel beams that will hold it atop a new innovation in the industry - screw piles. But those are only a small piece of the entire project that is changing the landscape, literally, of the county.
The cylindrical steel screw piles are easier to put into the ground and take less time than pouring concrete, Baron John said Saturday as he walked around the 170-acre site of the roughly $400 million gas collection and processing plant being built south of town.
John is the M3 Midstream LLC construction coordinator of the project, and once completed, the first plant of this kind in the area will serve as a collection and compression site for the natural gas from wells being drilled in eastern Ohio.
The independent midstream energy company, also known as Momentum, is a partner with Chesapeake Energy and EnerVest and the plant is located between state Route 644 and Tunnel Hill Road in Hanover Township.
John said the company's entire purpose is liquids extraction and the local operation includes a cryogenic processing facility that will extract natural gas liquids (NGL) from the shale gas, such as propane, butane and ethane.
Optimistic about the future, he said the liquids are the "bread and butter" that will "turn the industry around." He noted that around the United States, and other countries, more companies are being built to produce plastics, and light composition liquids are the "backbone of plastics."
The plant is targeted to be operational in June and the NGLs will be transported from the plant across Carroll County to a $500 million shale gas storage and transfer hub being built by MarkWest Energy Partners near Scio in Harrison County.
Minnesota-based Fagen Inc. was hired for the construction that began at the site on Nov. 5, although E.S. Wagner moved "hundreds and hundreds of tons of dirt" prior to that, he said.
Roughly 60 specially-trained workers spend about 11 hours five days a week preparing the site for the major equipment that will be arriving later, including the 160-foot-tall tower that will serve as the cryogenic facility.
Inside the tower, temperatures will be dropped to minus 150 degrees. "What we have left at the top (of the tower) is pure gas," John said.
The tower will be tied into gathering systems to collect gas from wells in Carroll County and also to collect gas from connector lines that will be installed for shale gas coming from Columbiana County wells.
"We'll gather all the gas from this area and cut the liquids out," John said.
He estimated the cryogenic equipment will arrive in January or February. Ohio Edison is expected to install a new substation at the site on Jan. 1, he added.
"We're moving along pretty good," he said.
He also said that more gas-processing plants will likely crop up in the future, and in neighboring Mahoning County that is already happening.
This week Hilcorp Energy and NiSource announced they are partnering on an estimated $300 million natural gas-processing plant that is to be constructed somewhere in the eastern Mahoning County. It will be the second cryogenic gas-processing plant in the Mahoning Valley area, according to other news reports.