Oil and gas means big business here in the Mountain State and Doddridge County is one of the hubs of it. On Thursday morning, the MarkWest Sherwood Processing Plant was revealed to the public. This is one of the first places where the gas is refined before it makes it to businesses and homes.
Plants like this one are what makes natural gas into the product that is used by the public. Right now there's one plant on this farm in Doddridge County. Construction is being done on a second one and there's even thoughts for a third. Just down the hill, there's also an Antero well pad with four wells. That gas is part of what goes through the first plant on the Sherwood property.
Oil and gas employees work around the clock to extract gas from the land. When the gas is considered "rich," it has to make a few stops before heading to businesses and homes.
"They take the gas from a producer, like ourselves, and then they process it," said Paul Rady, Antero Resources Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
This is where the MarkWest Sherwood Processing Plant comes into play. Rich gas, which means it has liquid in it, needs separated before it can be used as a heat source.
"It has to have a certain level of heating content and in order to meet that quality specification, the natural gas liquids need to be extracted. If you left the natural gas liquids in the gas, then the BTU, the heating content, is too high, is too flammable," said Frank Semple, Chairman, President and CEO of MarkWest Energy Partners.
That doesn't mean the liquids are useless. In fact, there's hardly any waste.
"You can sell the natural gas liquids in the marketplace for petrochemical purposes, making plastics, for instance, and also like propane, can also be used for heating, butanes can be helped with the refining process for blending," said Semple.
Once the gas is separated locally, it's shipped to other states before it ends up back in our homes. In this MarkWest Sherwood Processing Plant, enough gas is separated that could feed to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the plant also adds to our workforce.
"This is the first phase with the opening of this processing plant. There's been hundreds of workers in the construction, there'll be at least 20 or more full time jobs here so it brings a great economic boost to the state, and in particularly, this one, to Doddridge County," he said.
The oil and gas industry has received a lot of criticism in the past about hiring too many out of state workers. Even though the two companies are from out of state, they said the majority of their business is now done in our area, which includes Pennsylvania and Kentucky, because of the amount of natural resources in the area.
Both said they'll be spending more money here in 2013 than ever before and they talked about hiring local. Antero said it's the company's goal to hire as many West Virginians as possible and they encourage their contractors to do the same. Currently, 70% of their workers are native to our area.
Governor Tomblin said he hopes the state will find additional uses for this natural gas, such as using it to fill up our cars, so we're saving money by using our own resources.