Harrison Hub ‘turns the valves’

SCIO The Harrison Hub hosted a “Turn the Valves” ceremonial opening Monday afternoon, attended by Ohio?Gov. John Kasich, State Sen. Lou Gentile, various Harrison, Columbiana, and Carroll county elected officials, and leaders of Utica East Ohio Buckeye.

UEO is a combination of three companies: Access Midstream, M3 Midstream, and EV Energy Partners. The Harrison Hub facility is Ohio’s first integrated natural gas processing and fractionation complex serving producers operating in the Utica Shale. The plant processes 45,000 barrels per day and also has significant space for storage and a rail transportation system. Fractionation is a process different from fracking, meaning the Harrison Hub serves as a distillery for product that comes from a cryogenic processing plant near Kensington.

The crude product can be separated into more valuable products like butane, propane, and methane. The Kensington plant processes over two hundred million cubic feet of gas per day, according to M3 Midstream CEO Frank Tsuru. The UEO Buckeye System extends from Columbiana County and goes through Carroll County to Harrison County.

Only 11 months ago, the 600-acre Harrison Hub facility was nothing but cornfields, and construction continues and will continue well into 2015. Construction has also begun on a third UEO Buckeye location in Leesville in Carroll County. “We are very proud that these plants are being built in an efficient and safe manner. It is only through great operations and work between industry and local and state government that something like this can be pulled off so quickly. We’re proud of the role local businesses and workers are playing in these facilities”, Tsuru said.

Of the Harrison Hub and Kensington facility’s employees, sixty percent are from the Ohio area and five percent are from Scio. “What we’re most proud of is that we’ve hired many Ohioans for permanent jobs. These jobs are not for five years or three years, they’re fifty years. I don’t know if they’re going to want to work for fifty years, but the jobs will be here”, Tsuru said. Before turning the microphone over to Gov. Kasich, Tsuru stated, “we’re here to celebrate the spirit of partnership that has grown and strengthened between our industry and the state of Ohio.

The partnership is a primary driver behind the rapid expansion of natural gas production in the Utica Shale and evidence of the bright future ahead for energy production here.”

Gov. Kasich spoke about the need to fill the jobs being provided by the industry.

“We have to be able to answer the bell and make sure our young people can understand how exciting this is. We want to make sure that they have a steady stream of qualified people. They’re good jobs, they pay well, they’re secure, and they’re cutting-edge”, he said. To Tsuru and Access Midstream CEO Mike Stice, Kasich said, “I really want to thank you for making hiring Ohioans a priority. It’s something we were concerned about from the beginning.” Kasich commented on the potential growth of “adjacent facilities” like petrochemicals and polymers and encouraged all in the local community to consider them, and also said that government will work companies similar to UEO to find additional business opportunities.

Kasich noted that while dry and wet gas extraction is moving along smoothly, oil remains unreachable. “The geology at this time doesn’t lend itself to an easy extraction”, he said. However, Kasich sees that as potentially good, because new technology will need to be developed to reach the oil. “What I like about it, is they’re going to be here a long time figuring this all out”, Kasich said. Kasich closed his speech by saying, “isn’t it great that America is getting itself into a place where, for the first time, we can become energy independent, and we don’t have to rely on other people, or fight wars based in any sense in oil? We can stand alone, we can stand strong. That’s why our best days are ahead.”

Warner can be reached at mwarner@timesleaderonline.com.