Here are two things that energy companies like about propane: Prices for the fuel are high. And these higher prices help offset the cost of digging for natural gas, which is selling on the low side.
That has prompted energy companies to focus on “wet” natural gas fields — sites that are also rich in liquid byproducts, like propane, as we reported yesterday. One market watcher has called for domestic propane output to increase 8-percent by 2014.
So it’s fitting that the Virginia-based energy company Dominion just announced its plans to open a natural gas processing plant in the town of Natrium, W.V., which sits on the Marcellus shale formation that runs under the Appalachians. The multi-million dollar facility would process 300 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, plus another 38,000 barrels of gas liquids.
West Virginia’s natural gas has typically come up wet with propane, ethane, and butane. “Right now the liquids are as valuable, maybe even a little bit more valuable, than natural gas,” a VP with Dominion told the state’s MetroNews radio network.
The processing plant is expected to break ground this summer, and create 40 to 55 full-time jobs. “We will build the plant in stages,” the same VP told the Charleston Daily Mail. “If we’re right about how much gas comes out of West Virginia in the next couple of years, it will be as big as Hastings” — referring to the company’s other extraction and fractionation plant in West Virginia, and the state’s largest gas-gathering operation.
The site of the Natrium facility gives it easy access to two existing gas pipelines, along with railroad and barge hook-ups.