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NiSource, Hilcorp form JV for Utica shale production

NiSource Inc. unit Midstream & Minerals Group LLC, Merrillville, Ind., has formed a joint venture with affiliates of Hilcorp Energy Co., Houston, a privately owned oil and gas exploration and development company. The JV will build natural gas gathering and NGL processing for production in the Utica shale of northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Phase 1 of the venture's investment, amounting to about $300 million, is planned for later this year.

As part of the agreement, NiSource will participate in a separate JV with Hilcorp to develop combined acreage in the Utica and Point Pleasant shale formation in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. NiSource will participate in the joint venture as a “nonoperating working interest owner in the total acreage position,” it said. Hilcorp will operate and manage development of the combined acreage.

Pennant Midstream LLC, the new midstream JV, will initially invest in construction of 50 miles of 20-in. gathering in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. In addition, Pennant will invest in construction and installation of a cryogenic NGL processing plant in Ohio with initial capacity of 200 MMcfd.

NiSource Midstream Services LLC will operate the system, which initially will provide about 400 MMcfd of both wet and dry gas gathering, with expansion anticipated based on production in the area.

The Hilcorp-NiSource upstream JV will anchor the project with a long-term gathering and processing agreement, while additional capacity will be marketed to other producers in the area, said the NiSource announcement. The project is to be in service by third-quarter 2013.

Pennant is also reviewing multiple downstream NGL options with several parties, including development of its own fractionation, the company said.

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