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Two major natural gas producers in Pennsylvania see the colder winter weather and lower-than-average

By CARRI GRAHAM, Wheeling News Register

Mountaineer NGL Storage LLC hopes to begin construction on its new Monroe County facility later this year.

The Appalachian Storage Hub will be located on a 200-acre site along the Ohio River near Clarington. Mountaineer will use underground salt caverns to store barrels of natural gas liquids, such as ethane, propane and butane, for local manufacturers and producers. The impending facility is also a vital component in supporting the proposed PTT Global Chemical America ethane cracker plant project in Belmont County.

Mountaineer NGL Storage has faced some challenges this past year amid the coronavirus pandemic, including delays in planned projects and travel limitations for officials with the company, which is based in Denver, Colorado. David Hooker, CEO and president of Mountaineer NGL Storage LLC, said he is hopeful that the PTT project will be able to move forward this year. “They are a key anchor shipper for us. Had COVID not occurred, I think that project would already be in construction. … I still believe in that project’s revival and it will go forward, but it’s a key component for us too,” he said.

It has also been a difficult time in terms of coordinating meetings with regulators and local communities, Hooker said. Still, he is hoping to begin construction on the NGL storage hub later this year. “The site is ready. … We’re just waiting on well permits. We hope we can secure those in the next 60-90 days,” he said. However, construction of the storage facility cannot move forward until the cracker plant project has committed to move ahead, Hooker said. “We’re waiting on the anchor shipper, in this case it’s PTT. We continue to explore other options like hydrogen, but in order to build these the market has to have an interest,” he said.

The work to the new facility will create 200 construction jobs and around 20 permanent jobs once it is fully operational, he said. It will take around four years to construct the facility, he added.

Hooker said he wants to assure the community of the storage facility’s safety. The use of salt is the safest method for storing the liquid components, he said. “There are more than one billion barrels of liquid hydrocarbon storage, in salt, all around the country. This technology has been around for 100 years and it’s only gotten better over time,” he said. “We are setting new standards for this facility, even beyond what has existed for 30 years.”

Hooker said Mountaineer has followed all environmental and safety standards. The storage facility will have no impact on air or water quality, he said.

The storage company is also exploring the possibility of green hydrogen storage. Hooker said officials are currently gauging interest in the possibility of storing carbon-free hydrogen at the planned storage facility. “We don’t know who’s out there that might have an interest in storage for hydrogen, but that’s why we’re doing an open season,” he said. To gauge interest in hydrogen bulk storage, Mountaineer plans to launch a non-binding open season sometime this year.

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