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Pipeline plan drawing little controversy

Utopia stark contrast to NEXUS

Kinder Morgan, North America’s largest energy infrastructure company, hopes to wrap up negotiations with landowners in 14 Ohio counties this year so it can start building a 240-mile, 12-inch diameter pipeline it calls its Utopia East project.

The $500 million venture, while enormous in its own right, is not expected to draw as much controversy as the proposed $2 billion NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline.

Kinder Morgan wants to move ethane and ethane-propane mixtures from eastern Ohio to Windsor, Ont., starting in January 2018. Most construction is expected in 2017.

NEXUS, meanwhile, is trying to build a 255-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline to move natural gas from eastern Ohio to southwestern Ontario. It has proposed a controversial compressor station near Waterville.

Even Paul Wohlfarth, one of the region’s most outspoken pipeline activists, said there is “hardly the same risk” between the two projects.

“Not the same animal by a long shot,” he said.

Ethane, used as feedstock to make plastics, is a byproduct of the process energy companies use to hydraulically fracture shale so they can extract previously untapped reserves of oil and natural gas.

The fracking boom in eastern Ohio has led to major pipeline projects.

Kinder Morgan is building its pipeline to transport ethane products from the Utica shale region to NOVA Chemicals Corp., a project that will help make use of waste products, said Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan vice president of public affairs.

“I think there’s definitely a knowledge of the value of this product in the industry,” Mr. Fore told The Blade during an interview at the newspaper last week.

Kinder Morgan’s proposed route touches or passes through Harrison, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Stark, Wayne, Ashland, Richland, Huron, Seneca, Sandusky, Wood, Lucas, Henry, and Fulton counties. It is to tie into an existing line that passes through Lenawee, Monroe, and Wayne counties, where it goes under the Detroit River and winds up in Windsor.

The company initially wants to transport up to 50,000 barrels a day, and the system will be built with the capability of expanding that volume another 25,000 barrels a day, Mr. Fore said.

The project is expected to generate 900 local union construction jobs during 2017, and five full-time, permanent positions in Ohio.

Kinder Morgan employs nearly 12,000 people in the United States and Canada.

It owns an interest in or operates 84,000 miles of pipelines and 165 terminals transporting natural gas, refined petroleum products, crude oil, carbon dioxide, and other products. It also stores or handles products such as jet fuel, ethanol, coal, petroleum coke, and steel.

In Ohio, it operates 920 miles of pipelines and six terminals in 22 counties. Its Ohio workforce consisted of 176 employees with a combined $7.7 million payroll in 2015.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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