MarkWest Sherwood Complex
MarkWest Energy, now part of MPLX (Marathon Petroleum) operates the nation’s largest cryogenic gas processing plant operation in the country–in West Virginia. The Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV has the capacity to process up to 2.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natgas, along with fractionation (separating out ethane) of up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd). This year the facility will expand.
The Sherwood Complex facility manager Randall Eastham says MarkWest will add another 400 million cubic feet per day (nearly a half Bcf) in cryogenic gas processing capacity, and another 20,000 bpd of fractionation capacity. Massive!
The massive size of the plant is due in part to a partnership with (and processing of) Antero Resources and their voluminous WV production.
In addition to expanding the Sherwood facility this year, there are plans in the works to build a new/second facility in Doddridge County, called the Smithburg Complex, which will process up to 1.2 Bcf/d.
The operators of the MarkWest Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County plan to further expand the facility’s capacity this year.
Randall Eastham, facility manager of the Sherwood Complex, said it has 2.2 billion standard cubic feet per day of processing capacity, making it the largest gas-processing facility in the nation.
“We plan to expand it by another 400 million cubic feet per day this year,” he said. “Gas processing removes the heavier and more valuable hydrocarbon components of natural gas, which are extracted as a mixed natural gas liquids (NGL) stream, which includes ethane, propane, butane and natural gasoline.”
Liquid natural gas has multiple commercial applications, Eastham said.
“They are used as inputs for petrochemical plants, burned for space heating and cooking and blended into vehicle fuel,” he said. “In addition, Sherwood has a 60,000-barrel per day de-ethanization plant, which removes ethane from the other NGLs. We plan to expand this de-ethanization capacity by 20,000 barrels per day this year.”
MarkWest is a wholly owned subsidiary of MPLX. The Sherwood Complex first began operations in October 2012, according to Jamal Kheiry, communications manager for Marathon Petroleum Corp.
The complex is part of MPLX’s system that provides gas gathering and processing in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions.
Sam Schupbach, vice president of Operations Processing for MPLX’s Gathering and Processing segment, said the company employs more than 200 workers in West Virginia.
“We employ about 220 people and retain the services of hundreds of contract workers as well,” he said.
The company has spent more than $10 billion building infrastructure in the region over the last decade, Schupbach said.
In 2017, MPLX entered into a partnership with Antero Resources, which allowed it to expand the Sherwood Complex’s capacity, Schupbach said.
“We formed a joint venture with Antero Midstream Partners LP to support Antero Resources’ development in the Marcellus Shale,” he said. “At the time we formed the joint venture, Sherwood’s six cryogenic processing facilities had a total capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet per day.
“At the time the joint venture was formed, ongoing development of gas processing infrastructure included three new joint-venture processing facilities totaling an additional 600 million cubic feet per day of processing capacity for Antero Resources. Since then, another 400 million cubic feet per day of capacity has been added.”
MPLX has plans in the works for another natural gas facility in Doddridge County to be called the Smithburg Complex, which will have the capacity to process 1.2 billion cubic feet per day, Schupbach said.
An expected in-service date has not yet determined for the future facility, Schupbach said.
Doddridge County Commission President Greg Robinson said the Sherwood Complex is an important contributor to the local economy.
“The plant itself provides real estate taxes, but there’s also numerous pipelines that feed that plant,” he said. “And those are all part of the tax. When a facility provides employment in addition to the tax base, that helps the community and helps the people — it’s how some residents earn their income.”
The facility and its employees are also highly involved in local affairs in the county, Robinson said.
“They’ve contributed to many different good causes. If there’s some big event going on, most of the time we can count on them to be a willing partner,” Robinson said. “We appreciate the willingness of the plant to help — to be good neighbors, and for their willingness to contribute.”
The county’s tax base has grown substantially in recent years, largely due to increased oil and gas activity, Robinson said.
“In addition, the oil and gas provides through the royalties. Many residents get a significant amount of income every year,” he said.
One of the company’s core values is to be a good neighbor in the communities where it operates, Eastham said.
He cited numerous examples of engagement within Doddridge County, including charitable donations to several school groups and first responders and partnerships in education with Doddridge County High School.
The company’s employees are encouraged to donate their time to helping worthy local causes, Eastham said.
“MarkWest employees participated in the Doddridge County Sheriff’s (Office) Magical Christmas program last year, helping to provide gifts for underprivileged local children,” he said. “Employees also assisted with the North Bend Rail Trail cleanup recently, picking up a total of 22 bags of trash from the trail and surrounding area. This clean-up was part of a WV DEP program called Make It Shine. In addition to the hundreds of pounds of bagged trash, the employees also picked up a tire, a partial burn barrel and part of an old car.*
*Clarksburg (WV) WV News (Apr 13, 2019) – MarkWest Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV, plans further capacity expansion in 2019
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