Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. and MarkWest Energy Partners LP have joined forces to expand natural gas gathering and processing services to support increased production volumes in the Appalachian Basin of central West Virginia. The two companies have reported they talking with several natural gas producers regarding plans to provide new gathering and processing services near Columbia Gas Cobb aggregation system in Kanawha, Jackson and Roane counties of West Virginia. The expansion includes MarkWests previously announced expansion of its Cobb gas plant, which will increase the total processing capacity to about 70 million cubic feet per day by mid-2009. The two companies report that the natural gas liquids recovered at the Cobb gas processing plant will continue to be fractionated at MarkWests Siloam fractionation, marketing and storage complex, which is in the final stages of a significant expansion. The Cobb and Siloam expansions are currently under construction and require no additional capital beyond that included in MarkWests previously announced growth capital forecast. The expansion plans include Columbia adding horsepower to its existing Cobb compressor station and installing new field gathering and compression facilities to bring new gas volumes to the Cobb gas processing plant. As increases in production warrant, additional capacity could be added with incremental horsepower and additional expansion of the Cobb gas processing plant. These plans for expansion of gathering and processing services are in addition to the Columbia Gas Transmission and MarkWest announcement in August to expand similar services near Majorsville, W.Va., serving the northern panhandle area of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. Stay tuned. More to come. One of the big issues is take-away capacity from the rapidly developing gas fields such as this area. The developing global economic crisis may throw a crimp into many companies' plans to expand and develop their resources. This story is just starting to unfold. –John A. Sullivan, News Editor, Oil and Gas Investor,,