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Energy and Environment Monitor

WVU Study Identifies Opportunity to Create “Natural Gas Storage Hub” in Applachia

August 29, 2017

By: Douglas J. Crouse

A public study led by West Virginia University has proposed a regional effort towards developing infrastructure capable of supporting oil and natural gas storage facilities along the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. The data was presented on August 29 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Known as the Appalachian Storage Hub study, researchers from the West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio geological surveys have identified and mapped geologic formations that could offer potential locations for subsurface storage of natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

The study focuses on three options for these underground storage facilities:

  • Areas suitable for “solution mining.” This type of mining uses liquid (i.e., water) that is injected through boreholes where it dissolves salts and mineral that are then extracted. Solution mining is suitable is areas where “Salina F Salt” is at least 100 feet thick.
  • Areas where Greenbrier Limestone is present 1,800 to 2,000 feet below the surface and is at least 40 feet thick.
  • Areas where existing sandstone reservoirs in depleted gas fields and inactive gas storage fields can be converted to natural gas liquids storage.

The Appalachian Storage Hub study is a product of the Tri-State Shale Coalition, which was created in 2015 by a collaborative agreement signed by the Governors of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Coalition is a public-private partnership whose membership consists of charitable organizations, non-profit economic development organizations, academic institutions, and workforce development groups. The Coalition aims to promote the Appalachian region as a base for petrochemical, plastics fabrication and manufacturing jobs and investments.

Earlier this summer West Virginia Senators Manchin and Capito proposed legislation to establish funding for such a natural gas storage hub. A study by the American Chemistry Council suggests that the Appalachian region has the potential to become a petrochemical and plastic manufacturing center comparable to the Gulf Coast, citing the region’s proximity to East Coast and Midwest manufacturing markets and the local abundance of raw materials (OGJ Online, May 18, 2017).

This article was authored by Douglas J. Crouse, Jackson Kelly PLLC.


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