Producer Antero Resources, which recently refocused all of its efforts on Appalachia, has signed up for Utica Shale processing, fractionation and marketing services with MarkWest Utica EMG LLC.

Antero has more than 60,000 net acres of Utica rich gas and condensate leasehold in Ohio. It is running one drilling rig in the play and plans to add a second in the second quarter. Antero is in the process of building the initial gathering infrastructure to move rich gas production to processing infrastructure to be located in Noble County, OH.

MarkWest Utica, a joint venture of MarkWest Energy Partners LP (MarkWest) and The Energy and Minerals Group (EMG), will develop the infrastructure in Noble County. It will bring online an interim 45 MMcf/d refrigeration plant at its Seneca processing complex, with an expected second quarter 2013 completion. This facility will be followed by Seneca I, a 200 MMcf/d cryogenic facility, which is expected to begin operations by the third quarter of 2013. Agreements also provide for the construction of an additional 200 MMcf/d cryogenic facility, Seneca II, which may be installed as soon as the end of 2013.

MarkWest Utica also will construct a natural gas liquids (NGL) gathering system to its Cadiz processing complex and on to a new fractionation and marketing complex both in Harrison County, OH. The Cadiz complex will include a de-ethanization facility where purity ethane will be produced and delivered into the Appalachia to Texas (Atex Express) ethane pipeline (see Shale Daily, Jan. 5). The propane and heavier NGLs will then flow via pipeline to the Harrison County fractionator for further separation into purity products.

“MarkWest is a natural fit for Antero to partner with in the Utica to build the first processing complex near our acreage position, given their processing and fractionation plans in the Utica and the integration with their leading position in the Marcellus,” said Antero CEO Paul Rady.

This week Antero announced the sale of its Piceance Basin assets, which put all of the company’s exploration and production eggs in the Appalachia basket (see Shale Daily, Nov. 6).

Combined, the facilities will be the largest fractionation and marketing complex in the Utica Shale, providing 100,000 b/d of C2+ fractionation capacity with an expected completion date in the first quarter of 2014, MarkWest Utica said. Before then, Antero NGLs produced at the Seneca complex may be transported to either MarkWest’s Houston, PA, fractionation and marketing complex or its Siloam fractionator in South Shore, KY.

The Harrison County complex will be connected through an expansion of MarkWest’s Marcellus NGL gathering system to its Houston facility. The Harrison County fractionator will be owned by MarkWest Liberty Midstream LLC and MarkWest Utica. By the end of 2014, MarkWest will be able to provide its producer customers with nearly 275,000 b/d of C2+ fractionation capacity and market access to all of the planned ethane and propane pipeline projects in the Marcellus and Utica shales, the company said.

“We believe that Antero’s success in the Marcellus will prove to be a natural extension into the hydrocarbon-rich area of the Utica,” said MarkWest CEO Frank Semple. “With the support of our strong partner EMG, we are committed to providing best-of-class, fully-integrated midstream services for our producer customers.”