MarkWest Utica EMG LLC, a partnership between Appalachian midstream provider MarkWest Energy Partners LP and private equity fund The Energy and Minerals Group (EMG), has secured agreements to process and transport Gulfport Energy Corp.'s growing natural gas volumes from three eastern Ohio counties between now and 2014. The partners also are expanding one Utica Shale midstream facility and building a new plant to ensure producers have enough fractionation services available.

"The construction of this extensive set of midstream facilities is the first step of our Utica development plan, which will provide full service integrated services for our producer customers," said MarkWest Energy CEO Frank Semple. Last month MarkWest Energy spent $512 million to acquire Pennsylvania's Keystone Midstream Services LLC, part of the company's long-term plan to build an Appalachia Basin midstream system across the Marcellus into the Utica (see Shale Daily, May 9; Feb. 2).

Under the Gulfport agreements, infrastructure for the Oklahoma City-based producer is be constructed in Harrison, Guernsey and Belmont counties. About 60 miles of gathering pipelines and associated compression would be completed this year. Up to 140 miles of additional pipe would be built by early 2014.

Gulfport's gas would be processed at MarkWest Utica's Harrison County complex, which now is being expanded. An interim 40 MMcf/d gas processing plant is scheduled to open later this year. Harrison I, a 125 MMcf/d gas processing facility, now is set to start up early next year. To support more Utica production, another 200 MMcf/d of natural gas liquids (NGL) capacity could be installed in 2013, MarkWest Utica noted.

The partners also are building a second gas complex in Noble County, OH, which initially could process 45 MMcf/d. The facility, which also is scheduled for start up by the end of this year, would be followed by a 200 MMcf/d processing plant that could begin service by the middle of 2013.

Once completed, the Harrison and Noble processing complexes are to be connected by a NGL gathering system to the Harrison I fractionation complex, which is to include 100,000 b/d of ethane fractionation capacity by early 2014, according to MarkWest Utica. The Harrison I fractionation complex would be connected through an expansion of MarkWest Energy's Marcellus Shale NGL gathering system to its Houston, PA, fractionation complex.

Together the Houston and Harrison facilities would be the largest fractionation complexes in the Northeast, according to MarkWest Energy. The Harrison fractionator is to be owned jointly by MarkWest Liberty Midstream LLC and MarkWest Utica, and the capital to build the complex would be shared by the partners. MarkWest Liberty also is a joint venture between MarkWest Energy and EMG.