Appalachian Basin

Governor Kasich Celebrates Ohio Workers for Hickory Bend Project

Yesterday, Pennant Midstream, LLC, a joint venture by NiSource and Harvest Pipeline Company (an affiliate of Hilcorp Energy), hosted a dedication ceremony of its $150 million Hickory Bend natural gas liquid processing facility in Mahoning County.  At the event over 100 attendees were energized by the positive remarks from the speakers, including Governor John Kasich, as they touted the investment and what it means to the Mahoning Valley.

The first phase of the processing plant began construction in the spring of this year and will begin service in December 2013.  It will be the first processing plant online in Mahoning County and will be part of a 600 million cubic foot per day processing complex when it’s completed in 2014.

Robert Skaggs, President and Chief Executive Officer, of NiSource opened the event detailing the company’s commitment to Ohio and plans for the future.  What most people may not know is that NiSource’s operations have had a significant footprint in Ohio over the past century, employing over 2,000 Ohioans.

“We’ve lived and worked in this region for over 100 years.  We’ve been here since the advent of natural gas and to the unfolding of the Utica region.  This is the heart of our operations and just a few facts, 25,000 miles of pipeline criss-cross Ohio. We serve of 2 million customers in Ohio. We have over 2,000 employees, including our Hickory Bend team here in Ohio.  Over the next 5 years we will be literally investing billions and billions of dollars in Ohio”

This continued investment is producing significant work for local businesses and trade unions operating in the Mahoning Valley.  The first phase of the processing plant provided over 500 construction jobs to get the plant into operation.  Companies like Associated Pipeline and Beaver Excavating helped prepare the site, utilizing local labor groups from the Western Reserve Building Trades and Local 66 of the Operating Engineers.  In the end, the project helped keep Mahoning Valley residents employed while offering opportunity in the future as the project continues.

Carlton Ingram, Business Manager, Local 66 of the Operating Engineers, thanked the partners of the Hickory Bend project for including them in the building of their plant.  With their exceptional experience, the building trades are a natural fit to construct such a state of the art plant in the Mahoning Valley.

“All these men, they had a dream.  They had a what-if.  What if this is possible?  We thank, as the building trades, we thank these men for their commitment to the Ohio Valley for this Hickory Bend project.  The Hickory Bend processing plant has over 200 union trades men and women that have worked over 140,000 hours making dreams come true for their families and the community.”

These good paying jobs for the local trades will continue at Hickory Bend as they prepare to build two more cryogenic facilities following the first phase.

In addition to those connected to the plant, the audience was treated with a visit from Governor John Kasich, who spoke highly of the project and Ohio’s commitment to developing the Utica Shale in a safe and responsible manner. Of course, what excited Governor Kasich the most is that the industry is using Ohio workers.

“I am really glad Bob that you folks have made a commitment to hire Ohioans.    I’ve worked very very closely with the operating engineers and they do fantastic work.”

Ohioans are building these processing plants and laying the pipeline which means more income for our residents.  That is great news for Ohio and the Governor who is working hard to get Ohio back on track.

Naturally, Governor Kasich acknowledged that not all of the positions in the oil and gas industry can be filled by Ohioans just yet.  As we continue to train our workers through various local trades and schools step up to the task of training our students, Ohioans will be getting the majority of the jobs in the industry.

The Governor also shared with the crowd just how he feels about the folks in the Mahoning and Ohio Valley, and how Utica Shale development will help return our part of the state to the prominence we once had.

“I want you all to know here and not for politics, forget politics.  I love what you represent.  I love the kind of people you are here because I am one of you.  It’s the way I was raised.  I think it is exciting that the lord has given us an opportunity, by putting these things in the ground to give us a second chance in a way, isn’t it.  A second chance that may provide stability for not just our children but their children as well.  I think it is just terrific.”

The Hickory Bend processing plant is just another step in rebuilding the Mahoning Valley.  Now that the valley has the ability to process natural gas liquids, it will encourage development that may have been stifled by lack of infrastructure.  As Utica Shale development continues, the Hickory Bend project will continue to grow to meet its needs in the northern portion of the play.  Thankfully we will continue to use Ohio workers to ensure we meet the demand.

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