COLUMBIANA

COLUMBIANA

Residents turned out in droves to hear from an Oklahoma-based company about its plan to construct up to 600 miles of pipeline that will deliver natural- gas liquids across seven states and 16 Ohio counties.

Williams Companies Inc. hosted an open house Wednesday at Das Dutch Village Inn to explain all facets of one of the largest infrastructure projects yet announced for the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays.

At times, the small banquet room was so packed that attendees were straining to hear one another speak at the informational booths describing the construction, environmental and safety aspects of the pipeline.

The company announced in March that it had entered a joint venture with Houston- based Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, which will own about 60 percent of the 1,100-mile pipeline when Williams connects to its Texas Gas Pipeline in Kentucky, which will be converted to handle natural-gas liquids, a mix of ethane, butane, propane and other naturally occurring gases dredged up during the hydraulic-fracturing process.

The Bluegrass will deliver 200,000 barrels per day of NGLs to the Gulf Coast for processing and export. It eventually could be increased to handle 400,000 barrels per day if the market demands it.

The open house is just one of several the company recently has hosted in Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the 600-mile stretch of pipeline will be installed.

Bill and Pat Stuba of Elkrun Township learned the Bluegrass will be nowhere near their home, but they had little concerns to begin with. Fracking, they said, has been occurring regularly in the area where they live, and operators have been safe and cooperative, they added.

Bob Orr, a Springfield Township trustee, showed up for the same reason — to learn more about the pipeline, which skirts along the corner of Mahoning County as it makes its way through Columbiana County and heads southwest into central Kentucky. It will originate in Mercer County, Pa., and end in Louisiana.

Orr agreed with the Stubas, saying his experience with NiSource, which is building a multimillion-dollar natural-gas processing facility in his township, has been a pleasure.

The meeting in Columbiana stands in stark contrast to others in Kentucky, for example, where in some parts of the state the pipeline is meeting stiff opposition. A website, stopthebluegrasspipeline.us has cropped up online, and a grass-roots campaign there has produced a petition that has been submitted to Gov. Steve Beshear.

It asks the Kentucky General Assembly to consider a measure similar to others passed in several Kentucky counties where local governments have passed futile resolutions to ban the interstate pipeline.

Sarah Delgado, a spokeswoman for Williams, said the pipeline will be buried at an average depth of 3 feet. In agricultural areas, she said, it will be buried at 4 feet, and in areas with bedrock it could be only 2 feet below the surface.

She was joined by Scott Carney, of Williams’ strategic outreach, in saying the company would consider rerouting portions of the line if Williams meets significant opposition in particular areas.

But ultimately, Delgado and Carney said, the goal is to engage in a dialogue with the public, answer all questions and address any issues to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement in affected areas.

The project is expected to create 6,000 temporary construction jobs, Delgado added.

The company is approaching landowners to survey property and determine the specifics of the pipeline’s route.

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©2013 Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio)

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