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Pipe makes slow trek

November 16, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

WELLSVILLE - A semi truck hauling 40-foot-long sections of pipe slowed traffic in Wellsville most of the day on Wednesday. Police cruisers escorted the truck as it carefully threaded its way from the railroad tracks at Wellsville Terminals to state Route 7 off Clark Avenue.

Shipments of the 20-inch-diameter pipe have been arriving in the village by rail over the last few weeks to Wellsville Terminals, which has been contracted to transfer the pipes onto semi trucks. The sections then are shipped to Steubenville where they are being used in the new ATEX Express gas pipeline, which is being constructed by Enterprise Products of Houston.

Rick Rainey of Enterprise Products, speaking via phone, explained that the ATEX Express pipeline under construction will stretch 369 miles from the MarkWest gas fractionation facility in Houston, Pa., to a gas terminal in Seymour, Ind. From there, it will be joined to an existing pipeline that runs south to Mont Belvieu, Texas, approximately 20 miles east of Houston. The total pipeline length will be 1,230 miles from Pennsylvania to Texas.

The pipeline will carry ethane, a natural gas liquid extracted from the "wet gas" yielded from drilling operations across the region. The MarkWest fractionator plant separates the "wet gas" into its component varieties of butane, propane and ethane. "It's basically going to be all the natural gas liquids from the different wells up in the Appalachian areas," Rainey said.

Once it arrives in Texas, the ethane will go to one of the many petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast where it will be converted into ethylene, which is the base compound of several different kinds of plastic. "There's really no need to keep the product up there in the northeast at this time," Rainey said. "It's all headed south."

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