Natural gas pipeline planned for W.Va., Ohio

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A company is planning a $1.75 billion project that includes laying 160 miles of natural gas pipeline in West Virginia and Ohio.

Columbia Pipeline Group announced the investment in a news release Tuesday. The proposal would help transport up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Columbia expects to start construction in fall 2016 before putting the pipeline in service in the second half of 2017.

Columbia said the project will support natural gas development in western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio by linking to Marcellus and Utica shale deposits.

The new pipeline would ship more gas to the company’s interchange in Leach, Kentucky, where it would head to other markets. It will cut through Marshall County in West Virginia and head west to southern Fairfield County, Ohio.

“These newly announced investments reaffirm our commitment to this important region and will increase the capacity and flexibility of the Columbia Transmission and Columbia Gulf systems to further enhance transportation options for producers in Appalachia,” Columbia Chief Executive Officer Glen Kettering said in the release.

The initiative includes long-term service agreements with Range Resources-Appalachia, Noble Energy, Kaiser Marketing Appalachian and American Energy Utica.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration said the pipeline would boost the economy. Columbia did not spell out job creation projections.

“Today’s announcement by Columbia Pipeline Group will provide construction jobs and help companies develop additional markets for their natural gas while keeping a significant portion in the region,” said Chris Stadelman, Tomblin spokesman.

Columbia Pipeline Group is run by Merrillville, Indiana-based NiSource Inc.