(Editor's note: The Morning Journal news staff voted on the top 10 news stories of 2012. This story was voted No. 4 for the year.)
KENSINGTON - First came the announcement. Then anticipation. Then the cranes came in.
In early November-little more than seven months after the announcement that a shale gas collection and processing plant would be built somewhere in the county-the beginnings of the plant could be seen on a small hill in Hanover Township.
Each day more equipment is being delivered to the 170-acre site located between state Route 644 and Tunnel Hill Road, and the gas collection and processing plant should be operational next summer.
Rumblings of the planned plant began in late March, after a meeting of the Hanover Township trustees, who were approached by officials with Chesapeake Energy, Momentum/M3 Midstream LLC and Independent Land Services.
At that time officials would not disclose the location of the plant that would be the first in the county. Later, it was learned the location was near Kensington, a small community not far from the border of Carroll County.
The plant is being constructed by Momentum, and the-Houston-based company has partnered with Chesapeake Energy and Enervest on the $400 million project. It will serve as a collection and compression site for the natural gas from wells being drilled in eastern Ohio and includes a 160-foot-tall tower that will serve as the cryogenic facility that will extract natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the shale gas, such as propane, butane and ethane.
Although the entire project will span roughly five years, company officials expect the plant to be operational in June. The NGLs will be transported from there across Carroll County to a $500 million shale gas storage and transfer hub being built by MarkWest Energy Partners near Scio in Harrison County.
Initial processing capacity has been estimated at 600 million cubic feet per day. While it is the first of its kind here, others are cropping up elsewhere, including neighboring Mahoning County, and they are a by-product of the oil and gas boom that is putting the area on the map in the industry.
(Tomorrow: The No. 3 story for 2012)