Hickory Bend Investment Could Reach $1B

As many have heard, an important project is underway in Springfield Township in southern Mahoning County:  $300 million is being spent on the Hickory Bend gas gathering and processing project, which is being developed by NiSource Midstream Services LLC and Hilcorp Energy’s joint venture, Pennant Midstream LLC.  NiSource is mainly responsible for infrastructure development and Hilcorp will work on exploration and production.  The project includes a $150 million cryogenic processing plant, and an additional $150 million in pipelines that will extend from western Pennsylvania to Mahoning and Columbiana counties in Ohio.

NiSource COO Chad Zamarin came to the Mahoning Valley this week to meet with local officials and reporters, revealing the project could see even more investment in the next few years:

“We believe our initial $300 million project has the potential over the next few years to be $1 billion worth of investment in this very footprint” —Chad Zamarin (NiSource Exec: $300M Gas Project Could Grow to $1B, 5/1/13)

You read that right — $1 billion. Foreseeing the need for more infrastructure, NiSource is preparing the site for future investment, as Zamarin explained:

“We’re developing an area that will allow for multiple plants to be sited. When we do come back and expand the location, it can be done at very little impact” —Chad Zamarin (NiSource Exec: $300M Gas Project Could Grow to $1B, 5/1/13)

He also stated that 200 local excavators, operating engineers, and laborers are preparing the site for the new plant. Translation: hundreds of new jobs. As work continues, he said the number of local contractors and members from the building trades could grow to around 1,000.  As the project grows, so will the need for workers:

“We’ve found an incredibly talented work force. The trades and the unions are working with us on training and development programs so that by the time we get ready to do work, the folks are ready to hit the ground running.” —Chad Zamarin (NiSource Exec: $300M Gas Project Could Grow to $1B, 5/1/13)

The cryogenic plant’s construction should begin in June. Zamarin said within 12 months, the plant should be installed and in service.  The plant will chill natural gas to separate wet gas from dry gas. The dry gas will then be pumped into natural gas lines, while the wet gas will go to a fractionation plant.

Of course, NiSource isn’t new to the Mahoning Valley, and the company will continue to operate as a good neighbor. They’ve already paved two roads in the area and, as a means of reducing emissions, will run the plant on electricity rather than diesel fuel.  Through Columbia Gas, of which NiSource is a parent company, Zamarin explained that the company’s pipelines “have been in this area for over 100 years.”

Projects like Hickory Bend show Ohio’s Utica Shale is not to be overlooked, and the local impact of development can be — and indeed typically is — quite significant. When a company is considering spending $1 billion in a concentrated area, other investment will no doubt follow. The communities benefit from increased revenue and economic activity, and all Ohioans benefit from a plethora of new jobs. More headlines like this are sure to come!

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