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New Oil/Gas Pipe Facility Continues Rust Belt Renaissance

A Pennsylvania-based energy transportation and logistics firm is expanding in West Virginia to meet shale field demand for pipeline inspections with a facility that's expected to open in January at a shuttered steel plant in Benwood, WV, about three miles south of Wheeling in Marshall County.

Used for decades as a storage facility, JLE Industries LLC has purchased the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel site and invested more than $6 million to update it for pipeline inspections and threading services. JLE, which specializes in trucking for the Appalachian oil and natural gas industry, was founded about five years ago and has since grown.

The company plans to take pipeline used for gathering and transporting natural gas from well sites to the 80,000 square-foot facility to x-ray the pipes for problems and add new threading if needed. The company said it expects to create up to 45 jobs at the site.

It has applied for certification with the American Petroleum Institute to work on and inspect the pipelines. JLE said the facility was renovated in response to more demand for pipeline inspections and threading in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

Even as the commodity downturn persists, the oil and gas supply chain continues to expand, finding low-cost property across the Rust Belt to repurpose. Companies have spent tens of millions of dollars to refurbish old steel mills, coal-fired power plants and brownfield sites across the region.

Last year, a Pittsburgh-based holding company started converting an old cold rolling steel mill in West Virginia into an industrial services terminal to support oil and gas companies in the basin (see Shale DailySept. 11, 2014). Similarly, the former Ormet Corp. aluminum smelting plant that straddles Ohio and West Virginia in the heart of the region's shale play has been transformed into a central service terminal for the oil and gas industry (see Shale DailyNov. 3, 2014).

And with several companies stepping forward with plans to build petrochemical facilities in the region, work is already under way in Western Pennsylvania to convert a former zinc smelting property into a site for Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC's ethane cracker (see Shale DailyDec. 26, 2013). This year, a Thailand-based company also said it signed an option to purchase the site of a shuttered coal-fired power plant in Ohio to build an ethane cracker (see Shale DailySept. 3).

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