SALEM - The 50-mile NiSource Services LLC Hickory Bend pipeline is picking up steam through Columbiana County.
Announced 13 months ago, the $300 million pipeline system is a joint venture by Hilcorp Energy Co. and NiSource, which owns Columbia Gas.
Called Pennant Midstream LLC it includes a cryogenic natural-gas processing plant just completed in Springfield Township and pipeline that is currently being built in Columbiana County with 20- to 24-inch wet-gas gathering lines.
The partnership was created to accelerate exploration and midstream development in the Utica shale.
The first phase of the project consists of constructing a pipeline system capable of handling 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and the cryogenic plant must be able to process 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, NiSource spokeswoman Chevalier Mayes said last December.
The line is being built in the current NiSource right-of-way from Columbiana County and will stretch south through Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison and Belmont counties before ending in Monroe County.
Apart from NiSource, Momentum M3 just completed a processing plant in Kensington in Columbiana County and another in Harrison County to separate the more valuable oil that is expected to flow out of the shale along with the gas.
Those two facilities and lines are said to have already topped $1 billion.
John Bonn, president of NiSource Midstream Services LLC, said while the first user of Hickory Bend will be NiSource/Hilcorp the line will be open to other Utica shale customers.
"We expect that $300 million investment to grow and grow as we extend this system to accommodate production from additional producers in the area," Bonn said.
During recent Fairfield Township and Salem Township meetings, trustees have heard comments from road department personnel regarding the pipeline activity in their townships.
On Thursday, boring crews were working near at least four access points for the pipeline including in the 5100 block of Lower Elkton Road, where a boring machine was operating, in the 5100 block of Woodville Road, in the 40000 block of Lodge Road and next to Hilcorp's Grubbs' wellsite in the 4900 block of Grafton Road.