The arrival of a pipeline company in Donegal Township will serve as a pipeline for 400 temporary jobs.
Dallas-based Rockford Corp., a subsidiary of Primoris Services Corp., is setting up shop at 620 Old Brick Road, site of the former junkyard U Pullit. The company began logging and other land-clearance procedures last week in preparation for construction of a 50-mile pipeline between Houston and Moundsville, W.Va.
“We expect it to be done by Christmas,” said Carsten von Borstel, who is in charge of business development for Rockford. His firm is doing the work for Williams Production Appalachia LLC, which is based in Tulsa, Okla., and has an office in Southpointe.
The citizens organization PennFuture reported in May that the four main midstream natural gas companies functioning in Southwestern Pennsylvania – Williams, MarkWest, Dominion and Chesapeake – are building pipelines and as many as 11 fractionation facilities between Houston and Moundsville.
PennFuture reported that the pipelines and fractionation sites will allow production of national gas liquids to increase dramatically in the Marcellus and Utica shales.
Installation of the 12-inch pipeline, which will transport natural gas, will require about 400 workers – laborers, Teamsters, operators and welders. Von Borstel said Rockford is required to hire union employees, and that union rules stipulate that at least 51 percent have to be from Southwestern Pennsylvania locals.
“But if the union halls don’t have 51 percent (from the region),” more workers from outside may get jobs, von Borstel said.
“With the amount of oil and gas business going on there,” he added, “there may not be 51 percent (of union members) available. There will be local jobs.”
The 400 will not be brought on at once, but as needed as the project evolves in stages.
It has been a labor-intensive endeavor all along, going back to before site work began June 17. Donegal officials initially had to do some heavy lifting, convincing the state Department of Transportation to postpone an upcoming project on Old Brick Road until 2014 so the pipeline could be built in the municipality instead of elsewhere.
Township Supervisor Doug Teagarden said Rockford also was considering a site near Cabela’s, outside Wheeling, W.Va., but Donegal wanted to reap the financial benefit of having the pipeline installed there.
“Four hundred people would have been paying earned-income tax to us,” he said. “Even though it won’t be for a full year, any income would be helpful. We were very interested in that.
“Economic development hadn’t been going well.”
Rockford may have preferred Donegal. Teagarden said von Borstel attended the June 12 supervisors meeting “and asked what the supervisors could do to keep (Old Brick Road) open.”
What they did was ask their solicitor, Gary Sweat, to plead the township’s case to PennDOT, which agreed to put off the road work until next year – when it may be urgently needed.
“When we move into an area, and with the weight of our trucks, in all honesty roads don’t improve,” von Borstel said. “The road going 1.7 miles south of West Alexander that we’ll use will have 300 to 400 people traveling every day.”
The vehicular pounding will likely tax Old Brick Road, but tax money is attractive to Donegal, which is experiencing another relatively new boost – from natural gas drilling. Teagarden described the pipeline site as a former “self-serve junkyard.”
Over the phone, von Borstel seemed almost as pleased with PennDOT’s decision as are the township officials.
“We had just gotten the lease and were ready to go and we heard that,” von Borstel said. “PennDOT was accommodating beyond belief to Donegal Township and to us. I can’t say enough about the responsiveness of Donegal Township and PennDOT.”