March 08, 2018

Sen. Manchin's storage hub bill approved by Senate committee Thursday | Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG — A bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that could lead to major developments for West Virginia’s oil and gas industry was approved by a Senate committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 1337, called the Capitalizing American Storage Potential Act, was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill, which Manchin introduced in June, would make sure that a regional storage hub qualifies for the Department of Energy’s successful Title XVII innovative technologies loan guarantee program.

A regional storage hub could help ensure optimization of domestic energy resources while attracting manufacturing investment and creating jobs, Manchin said.

“The Appalachian Storage Hub will allow West Virginia and its neighbors to realize the unique opportunities associated with Appalachia’s abundant natural gas liquids like ethane, naturally occurring geologic storage and expanding energy infrastructure,” Manchin said.

“In fact, a storage hub will attract manufacturing investment, create jobs and significantly reduce the rejection rate of natural gas liquids like ethane, butane and propane by capturing and utilizing these products — thereby reducing emissions,” Manchin said.

Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Association, said her organization is supportive of Manchin’s efforts to bolster the state’s extraction industries.

“This is one more step in the right direction for the future of West Virginia,” she said. “A storage hub would provide a much-needed market for natural gas liquids in the Appalachian region and would allow us to keep that resource right here in West Virginia.

“By having access to natural gas liquids locally, our existing manufacturers will benefit and we will be in a position to attract additional companies, create thousands of downstream jobs and boost the state’economy,” she said. “We are excited to hear of this advancement spearheaded by Senator Manchin.”

The proposed Appalachian Storage and Training Hub most recently cleared a major hurdle in January.

Its developers, Appalachia Development Group, were given permission to proceed with Part II of the application process to secure a $1.9 billion federal loan to support the project.

The application was “the first of several steps in the process to secure a conditional commitment and final loan agreement, said Steve Hedrick, CEO of Appalachia Development Group and president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center.

“I would consider this to be a milestone and a pathway,” he said. “A select few efforts make it through Part I of the loan guarantee program and get an invitation to Part II.”

Hedrick said the initial cost of the project would be “north of $3 billion” for the first phase.

“(You’re talking) multiple storage locations with significant infrastructure and piping, storing and delivering natural gas liquids from intermediates to manufacturing locations — it’s not a small list,” he said.

John Deskins of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the WVU College of Business amd Economics said the storage hub would help add value to gas products extracted from West Virginia before they are shipped elsewhere.

“It’s absolutely crucial to see value added,” he said. “That could really turn around a lot of vicious cycles we’ve seen, such as unemployment and loss of population in this state.”

By:  Charles Young