The region around Ashtabula County in the Northeast corner of Ohio had a problem.
Local officials were having difficulty attracting new business and retaining those looking to grow. For years, natural gas in the area had been maxed out. Local industrial and residential energy demand were soaking up the supply of natural gas from provider Dominion Energy Ohio. So much so that service near the end of the existing pipeline would be inconsistent based on demands further upstream. The crimped supply was becoming a real hindrance.
“We have incredible local manufacturing talent, but when you’re missing some of the basic infrastructure and resources to serve certain industries it becomes difficult to compete,” said Greg Myers, Executive Director of Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County. “It’s especially difficult when companies may be looking to expand over time and want to know they have the resources to do it.”
An aluminum manufacturer in nearby Conneaut, Ohio was forced to look elsewhere when expanding its business, and local factories faced the prospect of shutting down daily operations to cope with repairs on high-pressure gas lines.
Enter JobsOhio and the Risberg Pipeline.
JobsOhio partnered with RH energytrans to catalyze and invest in the development of a 28-mile, 12-inch wide natural gas pipeline. A $4 million JobsOhio loan was crucial in bringing the project to fruition. The proposed pipeline has already caused one manufacturer to take a second look at the region.
“This has been a real game changer for us,” extolled Myers. “We’re working to attract a number of businesses to the region and the pipeline has been instrumental in those conversations.”
JobsOhio not only provided partial financing for the project, but added critical support to bring together the myriad agencies necessary for design, approval, and construction of the cross-state project. The pipeline will begin in Meadville, Pennsylvania and cross into Ohio, extending west to North Kingsville, intersecting more than 100 parcels of land along the way. About 30% of the pipeline will follow the path of either roads or highways.
“Projects like these can be enormously complex, which makes having a partner like JobsOhio instrumental to their success,” said Dennis Holbrook, spokesman for RH energytrans. “You’re always going to have challenges with things like permitting or timing, but working with JobsOhio has helped to mitigate those potential pitfalls.”
The design calls for an initial capacity of 55,000 MCF per day. According to Dominion Energy Ohio, the pipeline’s additional capacity could support an increase of over 50% in peak winter day supplies.
“We’re looking forward to having additional capacity to serve an area that has been supply-constrained for years. JobsOhio and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio were instrumental in enabling us to move forward in subscribing to capacity on the Risberg pipeline,” said Jim Eck, Dominion Energy vice president, Ohio & West Virginia Distribution.
“The real prize of this project is the potential for jobs,” said Matt Cybulski, Director for Energy and Chemicals at JobsOhio. “That will bring in more tax revenue, more economic development, and more growth for the region overall.”
Ohio has seen nearly $70 billion worth of investment in its energy industry through 2017, including close to $20 billion towards midstream assets such as transmission and gathering pipelines, storage and compression, and other related investments. The state sits directly above the Utica shale geological formation, which is rich in natural gas, natural gas liquids, and oil.
During the second quarter of 2018, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil & Gas reported that more than 2,000 horizontally drilled wells were producing energy across the Utica Shale. Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced more than 4.4 million barrels of oil and 545 billion cubic feet of natural gas, an increase of 11% and 42.25% respectively versus last year.