MarkWest Utica EMG LLC said Tuesday it has an agreement in principle with Gulfport Energy Corp. and some undisclosed producers to develop extensive midstream infrastructure in the liquids-rich portion of eastern Ohio's Utica Shale.

Under the terms of a letter of intent (LOI), MarkWest Utica -- a joint venture between MarkWest Energy Partners LP and The Energy & Minerals Group -- said it would build an "extensive" gathering system with Gulfport and some producers in Ohio's Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties. The system is expected to come online this year. However, definitive agreements are required before the transaction would take effect.

The LOI calls for MarkWest Utica to process the gas and provide fractionation and marketing services for natural gas liquids (NGLs) through new facilities in Harrison County. MarkWest Utica is building a processing plant that would provide 200 MMcf/d of capacity by 2013, as well as a 100,000 b/d fractionation, storage and marketing complex (see Shale Daily, Feb. 9). NGL purity products would be marketed by truck, rail and pipeline from the facility.

"The full spectrum of natural gas midstream services, particularly the fractionation and marketing of NGLs at a world-scale fractionation complex, is essential to the success of Utica producers, and we are excited to work closely with our producer customers to develop this prolific shale play," said MarkWest CEO Mark Semple.

Through other projects, MarkWest plans to add more than 600 MMcf/d of processing capacity and 140,000 b/d of incremental fractionation capacity to the Appalachian Basin. Once completed, the company and its affiliates would operate around 2.3 Bcf/d of processing capacity and nearly 300,000 b/d of NGL fractionation capacity (see Shale Daily, Feb. 2). Those projects include:

MarkWest reportedly plans to spend between $900 million and $1.3 billion on capital projects this year, with 80% allocated to projects in the Northeast, including the Utica Shale (see Shale Daily, March 2).