ASHTABULA – The Risberg Pipeline project being a “game-changer” for Ashtabula County was the message from the latest Profiles breakfast hosted by Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
At the Profiles breakfast, Kyle Rhoades, chief operating officer of RH energytrans, LLC, spoke about the Risberg Pipeline. The Risberg Pipeline project involves the construction of an $86 million interstate, natural-gas pipeline system in western Pennsylvania and Ashtabula County. The project has been in development since Spring 2017.
RH energytrans is developing the Risberg Pipeline. Officials say this $86 million project will make large quantities of clean-burning natural gas available to the area, which previously had very limited access to this critical energy resource. “This might be one of the largest Profiles breakfasts that I’ve seen,” Growth Partnership Executive Director Greg Myers said at the start of the program. He introduced Rhoades and other forces behind the Risberg Pipeline project, including Øivind Risberg, founder, CEO and president of EmKey Gathering and RH energytrans; other RH energytrans officials; and a representative from Dominion Energy.
“Without Dominion’s participation as the anchor customer, if you will, in this project, we wouldn’t be standing here, I don’t think, at this point in time, talking to you,” Myers said. “The relationship with Dominion Energy is critical.”
“This is certainly a game changer for Ashtabula County, in terms of our economic-development competitiveness, not only in terms of helping our existing companies be more competitive to grow, to have capacity to add jobs, expand, but it’s also critical in terms of our ability to attract new companies and leverage our other resources,” Myers said of the Risberg Pipeline. “Without the piece of the Risberg Pipeline, the other pieces, such as the deepwater ports, rail, highway access, would have much less value, and we wouldn’t be able to develop those without this critical piece.”
Rhoades said they’re excited to see the Risberg Pipeline generates such interest and, hopefully, excitement in the community. He gave further background and details on the project.
“In total, it’s a 60-mile project, running from Meadville, Pa., to North Kingsville, Ohio,” Rhoades said. “Dominion Energy is the anchor shipper. We’re tying into a system of theirs in North Kingsville to allow some capacity to free up on their system.”
He gave some history of EmKey Gathering, which is the legacy company founded by Øivind Risberg. It’s a 350mile system originally built by Columbia Gas Transmission.
“Our goal is to find pockets, like this one, that need gas capacity that have growth potential,” Rhoades said. He showed one of their projects in Jamestown, NY. The system allowed the city to convert its coal-fired powered plant into a natural-gas powered, turbine plant. “We’ve been supplying the city for the last 18 years,” he said.
“The Risberg Pipeline will be under the federal energy regulatory commission jurisdiction,” he said. “We found a pocket up here in northeast Ohio that had some system constraints,” Rhoades said. “We have an existing system that’s half the distance of any other potential larger supply lines that could satisfy the same needs in this area. The project can also use existing facilities to limit the environmental impact.”
“The Risberg Pipeline will provide incremental natural-gas pipeline capacity to a historically limited area for firm natural-gas deliveries,” he said. “There’s also significant pipeline expansion capability to meet a growing demand in the region as it develops.” The 28-mile natural gas pipeline will connect to 32 miles of existing pipeline.
“The initial design capacity is 55,000 MCF per day,” Rhoades said. “20 BCF per year could supply over 200,000 homes.” Dominion Energy Ohio has subscribed for 40,000 MCF per day of the initial capacity as an anchor shipper.
“There’s significant expansion capabilities,” he said. “The system can be expanded to 200,000 MCF per day capacity as demand increases without modification to the new build portion of the project.”
Rhoades said they were issued their Ohio EPA permits last Friday and are looking to begin construction stake-out and right-of-way clearing this month. “Once we’re on the ground, it’s a little over a five month construction process to get to first gas flow and about a six-and-a-half month total project,” he said. “We have contractors already contracted, standing by waiting to start construction.”
In answering questions about the project, Rhoades said that 98 percent of the line would be open-cut, standard construction, with some horizontal drilling by Route 90, Conneaut Creek and Route 7. “The right-of-way width varies, and about 60 percent of the route parallels existing corridors,” he said. “We’ve had great support with land owners. We’re dealing with a lot of large-parcel farm owners in Ohio, and I think they see the benefit it’s going to bring to the community.”
Added Myers, “Even with the announcement that the pipeline is coming, we’re already seeing investment interest from multiple companies throughout the county.” He said they’re competing for a project in Ashtabula that could provide hundreds of new jobs and hundreds of millions in capital investment. “And the only reason that we’re competing is because this was that last remaining piece of infrastructure that we were missing. We’re able to leverage other key assets.”
They’re also looking at potential projects in Conneaut. “We’re in the early stages of discussion, but at least we’re in the game now. And we’re in the game because of this pipeline,” Myers said. “Ashtabula County has logistically competitive sites, but they lack the infrastructure that the pipeline could provide,” he said.
Lastly, Risberg spoke, thanking the Ohio and Pennsylvania forces behind the project. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It took us years to come to this conclusion. Without Dominion, I would not be here.” He also thanked the landowners who have supported them along the way. “With their support, they have been able to work privately with the landowners in negotiations and have not had to use eminent domain,” he said.
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