Leach XPress pipeline project to benefit county landowners

Source: Morgan County Herald

The proposed Leach XPress Project involves construction of approximately 160 miles of natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle.

The roughly $1.4 billion investment will enable the safe transport of approximately 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas from the heart of the Appalachian supply basin to natural gas consumers served by the Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf pipeline systems. When completed, the new Leach XPress pipeline and compressor system will supply this region with domestic, clean-burning natural gas for generations to come.

According to Zane Daniels, a manager with Columbia Pipeline Group, 33 Morgan County landowners and 80 Noble County landowners will be leasing land for the construction of a 50-foot wide permanent easement for operation and maintenance of the new pipeline.

The section of pipeline in Morgan and Noble Counties will consist of 36-inch diameter pipe. The pipeline will run for 12 miles through Morgan County and 22 miles through Noble County. The entire project will impact 950 landowners and 1,200 parcels of land in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The Leach XPress Project also will include three new compressors. The compressors will be located in Marshall County, WV and Noble and Jackson Counties in Ohio.

“This project will be a substantial economic benefit for Morgan and Noble Counties,” said Daniels. “The pipeline construction project, in Morgan County, will take approximately six to 8 months to complete but we will be maintaining good community relations for a long time.”

Daniels says Columbia Pipeline Group plans to be as transparent as possible throughout the duration of the pipeline construction project as well as the life of the pipeline.

“The Leach XPress Pipeline Project is the largest project in the history of our company,” said Daniels. “This will be a long process and a tremendous benefit for this part of the state.”

Daniels is excited about the project because he claims it will bring good paying jobs to the area, tax revenue for local schools and allow the industry to reach full potential.

“The interstate market is frustrated right now because the transmission capability is not available,” said Daniels. “Once we complete this pipeline and contect both ends to already existing pipelines, we will be able to transport gas to the Gulf Coast.”

As natural gas production continues to grow in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, Columbia Gas Transmission has been working closely with natural gas producers to provide new transportation options to deliver gas from the capacity-constrained supply basin to the interstate market. By connecting production areas to the Columbia Gas Transmission mainline system, the Leach XPress Project will help move domestic natural gas to high-demand energy markets.

“We have had a positive response to our outreach and survey projects so far,” said Daniels. “Those projects are about 95 percent completed. We plan to do pre-filing with federal regulators around the first of October and hold open houses in local communities during the first two weeks of November.”

The open houses will be like “science fairs” according to Daniels. The meetings will display maps of the project route, discuss reclamation and be as transparent as possible with all information.

“Soon we will start easement acquisitions from landowners and present payment for land usage,” said Daniels. “We hope to complete the Leach XPress Project by July of 2015.”