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A Look at the Major Projects Driving Construction in the Marcellus / Utica Shale

  June 2018 / Vol 8 Issue 4

A Look at the Major Projects Driving Construction in the Marcellus / Utica Shale
By: Ray Keller, National Sales Manager, Pipeline Division, BEG Group, LLC


I guess it was some time in the early 1970’s when I was first exposed as to the global ramifications of what I did in the pipeline construction field. It was a very turbulent time for America. The Vietnam War was raging, prompting unrest at home, gas lines at the pumps, odd even day purchases, and, after finding tremendous oil reserves while looking for water in the Middle East (yes, it was by accident we discovered oil there), those countries began nationalizing their oil companies and stealing billions of dollars and equipment from US companies that had signed long term agreements for delivery of oil, giving us what we thought would be a stable source of energy. Then somewhere around that time, magic appeared in the form of a project named TAPS. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, it stands for TRANS ALASKA PIPELINE SYSTEM. Suddenly, when I was asked “what do you do for a living”, all I had to say was “I work in the pipeline construction industry, you know, as in Alaska!” Voila! Everyone was an expert. I was always on the construction side of the industry, never having given a thought to the fact that someone had to pay for all this. (I was 22 years old, who cared!) This past year , some 48 years later, I had the absolute great honor of meeting, through my association with the BEG Group,LLC and their Big Switch Sock product, a gentleman named John R Miller. John, who worked for SOHIO near Cleveland as a chemical engineer, almost single handedly, arranged for the $6.1 billion financing of what was to become the largest privately financed construction project in the world to date, the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System. I will strongly suggest you get and read a copy of Johns book titled “Little Did We Know.” If you would like, I can arrange that for you. This is all mentioned just as a reference as to what we are doing here in the northeast today. I’m going to delve into four major projects over the next few issues that are of tremendous importance to not only us here in the northeast, but to people around the world who will be affected by what we do. These projects will become the arteries and capillaries of the energy infrastructure in our nation for many decades to come. By name they are:


For reference, please keep in mind that Mr. Miller arranged approximately $6.1 billion of financing, a huge undertaking at the time. The entire TAPS project was approximately 800 miles of 48″. The above 5 listed projects just in PA, OH, WV, & VA total over 1,000 miles of various size pipeline at an estimated cost of over $16.5 billion. The number of construction jobs created will exceed 10,000, and will create a similar number of more importantly, careers. The trickle down effect on local businesses is beyond estimation. For the sake of being brief, let’s just look at one artery and one capillary at this time, the Dominion Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the EQT Ruff Creek Lateral.

This project will include many firsts for the pipeline construction industry, perhaps the most glaring is that the project, over 604 miles of 42″ , .888 heavy wall pipe will mark the first time in history that 42″ pipe will be laid in the rough terrain of West Virginia. To date, the largest is 36″. The project is so large and important that a “Super Contractor” named Spring Ridge Constructors,LLC has been formed by four of the largest pipeline contractors in the US. They will pool their equipment, manpower, and monetary resources to “get ‘er done”. We had “Super Groups” in the music industry in the 80’s such as Cream and The Traveling Willburrys for those of you old enough to remember.. These contractors include Price Gregory and US Pipeline from Houston, TX, Rockford Corp. from Hillsboro, OR and Michels Pipeline operating as SMPL,LLC from Brownsville, WI. Price Gregory will lay in 2018 6,000′ of 42″ in Lewis County ,WV and 84,671′ of 42″ in Harrison County, WV. Their headquarters will be in Jane Lew, WV. US Pipeline will lay 93,984′ in Pocahontas County WV and Highland County VA. Headquarters will be near Frost, WV. An additional USPL spread will lay an undetermined amount of 42″ in Stanton 2018 and 2019. Rockford Corporation will lay an undetermined amount of 42 ” in 2018 & 2019 in Cumberland County ,NC headquartered near Fayetteville, NC, and SMPL,LLC will lay and undetermined amount of 42″ running south into SC most likely in 2019. Just a statistic, 42″ pipe comes in 40′ lengths. There is a weld every 40’, and it will take in excess of 50#’s of welding rod to make one weld. This pipeline will eventually feed the Piedmont System with natural gas for industrial and residential use in North Carolina, South Carolina and beyond. It is TRULY an artery for the Marcellus and Utica Shale gas to get to market.

Now lets look at just ONE of the capillary projects taking place in our backyard. There are probably 20 others under construction at this time of similar magnitude.

EQT has just acquired several smaller gas pipeline companies including Rice Energy, and Mark West Energy making it one of the largest local distribution and transmission companies in western Pennsylvania. This project consists of approximately 45 miles of 30″ and 12″ near Ruff Creek, PA. The construction has been awarded to Ron Lane Pipeline Construction located near Clarksburg, WV. Ron Lane Pipeline Construction has been safely laying smaller diameter transmission lines and distribution lines in the area for over 30 years. One of their companies main objectives is not only safety, but a sincere concern for the environment. This gas will make its’ way to manufacturing firms, hospitals, schools and numerous residential households when complete. It is a fine example of a capillary project in our industry, making locally produced gas available to and benefiting our local communities.

According to The Pipeline Contractors Association Weekly News Letter of June 4th,2018, The US Energy Information Administration reports that “The United States remained the worlds’ top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2017, reaching a record high. The United States has been the worlds’ top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and the worlds’ top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013 when the US production exceeded Saudi Arabia. Since 2008, petroleum and natural gas production has increased by over 60%.

All of you who work hard in this industry should be proud of these facts. You are making life better for many of your fellow American Citizens as well as for many citizens of countries both developed and underdeveloped around the world. Keep up the good work.

Next months article will delve into some of the other major artery projects in progress in the northeast. I hope you will find the information helpful Please share our good news stories with your friends and relatives in giving everyone a better understanding of our industry.

Ray Keller