NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. — Hancock County’s projected portion of the Rover Pipeline may be small, but the long-term benefits could be big, county commissioners said on Thursday.
Only 5.25 miles of the 711-mile natural gas pipeline will run through Hancock County, the smallest, northernmost county in West Virginia. But commissioners said the property tax windfall could total $390,000 a year, starting in 2017.
“We’re looking forward to a positive and productive relationship with you,” Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller told Rover Pipeline officials on Thursday.
The Rover Pipeline, a project of Energy Transfer Partners LP, will carry an estimated 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to markets in the Midwest. Its main purpose is to capitalize on rising production levels in the Marcellus and Utica Shale areas of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.
David Testa, senior environmental scientist with AECOM in Pittsburgh, told commissioners the Rover Pipeline is meant to address a deficiency in the “midstream,” or transportation, sector of the oil and gas industry.
“It has not caught up with the production portion,” Testa said. “There’s a lot of production that needs to get to market.”
The section of pipeline designed to run through Hancock County is known as the Burgettstown Lateral because it starts at a supply compressor station in Burgettstown, Pa., and hooks up to the mainline near eastern Tuscarawas County, Ohio.
From there, 66 percent of the product in the pipeline will be delivered to the Midwest hub near Defiance, Ohio, while 32 percent will go to markets in Michigan – for eventual distribution to markets in the United States and Canada, Testa said.
Eighty percent of the pipeline will be buried under agricultural land, he said, and will parallel existing pipelines, power lines and roads. Testa described the portion in Hancock County as a “pass through,” meaning there will be nothing above ground except for valves and monitoring equipment.
“With projects like this, you want to minimize the initial impact by using existing rights-of-way as much as you can,” Testa said, noting that most of the right-of-way acquisition is complete.
The pipeline will be monitored remotely 24/7 using electronic sensors and “smart pig” technology, he said.
Responding to queries from commissioners, Testa said the tentative project timetable is as follows:
November – Issuance of construction certificate and necessary permits by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
January 2016 – Construction begins.
June 2017 – Project completion.
Testa said construction will be done simultaneously in sections, known as “spreads,” along the length of the pipeline. The Hancock County portion could be done within two to three weeks of the start date because crews can lay about a mile of pipeline a day, Commissioner Jeff Davis said.
Susan King, oil and gas business line lead for AECOM, said right-of-way clearing could begin in the fall, to be followed by the digging of trenches for the pipes.
The pipe will be lowered into the ground and then covered, she said.
“The physical process will not take that long,” King said. “The restoration process takes longer.”
Swartzmiller asked if Rover Pipeline LLC will hire locally and whether local companies will be able to bid on projects. Testa answered in the affirmative to both questions.
“Energy Transfer Partners is committed to using union labor, and they are reaching out to local union halls,” Testa said.
Commissioner Joe Barnabei asked whether Hancock County residents with wells will be able to tap into the pipeline.
AECOM officials said that depends on the gas company involved and whether it has a contract with the pipeline company.
Barnabei also asked about the pipeline’s potential impact on Woodview Golf Course, operated by Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. AECOM officials said the golf course may not be implicated if FERC changes the point at which the pipeline crosses the Ohio River.
The pipeline is expected to created 35 permanent jobs and up to 2,200 temporary construction jobs in West Virginia.
Its annual contribution to the property tax base in West Virginia is estimated to be $3.9 million.
Testa said the pipeline company will coordinate its work with Hancock County Schools, the Hancock County Office of Emergency Management and local law enforcement agencies.