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In an attempt to support increased natural gas liquids (NGL) production in the Marcellus and Utica plays, MarkWest Energy Partners LP (MWE - Analyst Report) − natural gas processor and distributor − has decided to doubled the fractionation capacity of the Hopedale fractionation complex, located at Harrison County, OH. The partnership added that the expanded facility will start operating by the first quarter of 2015.  

The fractionation complex is co-owned by MarkWest Utica EMG – a joint venture between The Energy & Minerals Group (EMG) and MarkWest Energy – and an affiliate of the partnership.

MarkWest Energy added that the capacity of the Hopedale fractionation complex will increase to 120,000 barrels per day (Bbl/d), once the facility’s expansion work gets over. Additionally, with the expansion of the Hopedale complex, the total fractionation capacity of all the four complexes of the partnership in the Northeast will increase to 300,000 Bbl/d.

In addition to fractionation plant, the Hopedale complex of MarkWest Energy includes NGL gathering facility which is connected through pipeline with the NGL producing region in the Marcellus Shale. The pipeline will transport the NGL from the gathering facility to the Gulf Coast and international markets, thereby giving natural gas producers in the Marcellus plays an access to the international markets.

Denver, CO-based MarkWest Energy, a master limited partnership, is engaged in the gathering, processing and transmission of natural gas, transportation, fractionation and storage of NGLs, and the gathering and transportation of crude oil.

The partnership currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it is expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Meanwhile, one can consider better-ranked players in the same industry like Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP (BWP - Snapshot Report), Delek Logistics Partners LP (DKL - Snapshot Report) and Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP - Analyst Report). All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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