Small nuke plants may be in Ohio’s future

By Burton Speakman


11At Monday’s Sustainable Energy Forum at Youngstown State University many of the speakers focused on development of the Utica Shale.

Scott Hallam, manager of development and operations for Chesapeake Midstream Management, talked about the company’s role in the gathering, production and transportation of natural gas.

The company, along with Momentum and EnerVest, currently has a cryogenic processing facility under construction in Columbiana County. The facility will separate natural-gas materials and then send that material to a hub in Harrison County, he said. The total investment in the Columbiana and Harrison county facilities is $900 million.

“There could be more cryogenic processing facilities in the state going into Harrison County,” Hallam said.

The entire world is watching how the U.S. develops shale gas, particularly in the Marcellus and Utica Shale, said Cynthia Powell, director of research and development at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Powell’s laboratory is working at a site in West Virginia to check for pollution or seismic activity throughout the entire process of hydraulic fracturing, she said.

Ohio has certainly been a beneficiary of the hydraulic fracturing technology, said Craig Butler, assistant policy director of energy, agriculture and environment with the office of the governor.

The state remains very early in the process of developing the shale-gas play, he said.

“There are plans for expansion into thousands of wells. We expect that to happen very quickly,” Butler said.

The expected sweet spot for the wells continues to change, and the companies involved are really still defining the play, he said. Once companies determine where the best development spots are, activity will increase dramatically.

The state also has altered how it tracks production within the shale. Previously, reports were issued once a year, but they will come out quarterly, Butler said.

“It will give us a better idea of production,” he said. “We expect production to be prolific once they’ve found the right spots.”

Chesapeake Energy, Total, BP and Exterran are just some of the companies that have invested in Ohio, he said.

BP appears set to continue to invest in Trumbull County, Butler said.

The shale play will not just impact oil and gas industries, but other parts of the economy, he said.

Ohio companies will be able to adapt what they do to make equipment and supplies for the energy industry, he said.

“One thing about Ohio, we know how to make stuff,” Butler said.

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