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Township Clears MarkWest NatGas Processing Plant, But Pennsylvania OK Still Needed

Smith Township supervisors in Pennsylvania have signed-off on MPLX LP subsidiary MarkWest Energy Partners LP’s plans to build a 200 MMcf/d natural gas processing facility, but the company is still waiting on an air permit from state regulators to begin construction.

MPLX spokesperson Jamal Kheiry said the company does not discuss specific project schedules, but added that MarkWest plans to have the plant finished and online by 4Q2018. A MarkWest official told local news media after supervisors voted to approve construction that the company plans to start excavation work as soon as possible and proceed with actual construction once it has an air permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The company applied for the permit in June.

The proposed Harmon Creek Complex was put on hold until last year when the commodity outlook improved and MarkWest revived the project. It is to include two cryogenic units and 20,000 b/d of de-ethanization capacity. The company has told township officials that the site is also scaleable to four cryogenic units and two de-ethanizers.

Citing those comments, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), a Washington, DC-based watchdog group, and other environmental organizations sent a letter to state regulators alleging technical deficiencies in MarkWest’s air permit application, asking the agency to deny the permit because the company has not disclosed the full intent of its plans.

DEP spokesperson Lauren Fraley couldn’t say when the agency might issue the project’s air permit. She said the agency would consider the EIP’s comments, others and completely evaluate the application before it makes a decision.

The project has drawn attention in the small corner of Washington County, where shale gas activity has continued to increase. The Harmon Creek site is near another cryogenic processing facility underway by Energy Transfer Partners LP as part of its $1.5 billion Revolution System project, which would provide a complete rich-gas solutions system in the region and include a network of infrastructure.

MarkWest had expected to start construction on Harmon Creek last month. Construction activities at ETP’s site, approved by the township last year, have created issues for residents who have complained about truck traffic. MarkWest has since agreed to make improvements to local roads in the area as they’re needed. 

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