Category Archives: Pipeline

AC Mitigation: 4 Approaches

AC mitigation is the process of designing and applying pipeline grounding systems to:

  • Prevent voltage spikes during fault conditions
  • Reduce AC current density to protect against AC induced corrosion
  • Maintain AC step and touch potentials below 15 Vac to protect personnel from shock hazards
AC mitigation prevents voltage spikes and corrosion and protect workers
AC mitigation prevents voltage spikes, protects pipelines from corrosion and protects workers in areas where the pipeline parallels high voltage transmission lines.

Pipelines that parallel overhead high voltage AC transmission power systems are subject to AC interference. AC interference has several potential adverse impacts on the safety of personnel and pipeline integrity. Assuming that these conditions exist, there are several measures that can be taken to mitigate the AC interference present on a pipeline. These AC mitigation strategies are detailed in various international standards including NACE SP0177-2014 Mitigation of Alternating Current and Lightning Effects on Metallic Structures and Corrosion Control Systems.

There are four basic approaches to mitigating AC Interference. These mitigation strategies are:

1. Fault Shielding

One of the primary concerns with high voltage AC transmission systems parallel to buried pipelines is the risk that a fault condition at a transmission tower could result in the rapid discharge of fault current near the pipeline. This could lead to direct current arcing in soil – rare but very damaging. More common is the rapid ground potential rise that subjects the pipeline coating to large voltage gradients that result in coating damage. Fault shielding is a suitably designed grounding system that is installed between the tower footing and the pipeline that acts to shield the pipeline and shunt harmful currents away from the pipeline by providing a low resistance path to earth. This typically takes the form of a parallel shielding wire, either copper or zinc, connected to the pipeline.

2. Gradient Control Mats

When high levels of AC voltage are present on a pipeline, either during a fault condition or as the result of an inductive coupling during normal steady-state operations, personnel in close proximity to and/or touching any above ground or exposed appurtenance are at risk for electrical shock step or touch hazards. Installing gradient control mat, which is a system of buried bare conductors, typically galvanized steel, copper or zinc, connected to the structure, provides localized touch and step voltage protection by creating an equipotential area around the appurtenance.

3. Lumped Grounding Systems

Lumped pipeline grounding systems consist of shallow or deep localized grounding conductors that are connected to the structure at strategic locations to reduce the AC voltage level along the pipeline. This provides protection to the structure during steady-state or fault conditions from nearby electric transmission.

4. Gradient Control Wire

Gradient control wire grounding systems function the same as the lumped grounding system. With this type of system, long continuous grounding conductor(s) are installed horizontally and parallel to the pipeline. They are strategically located and sized to reduce the AC induced voltage along the pipeline during steady-state or fault conditions from nearby electric transmission.

For mitigating high levels of AC induced voltage along a pipeline, gradient control wires are the most common form of AC mitigation. Hybrid systems that combine lumped grounding systems with gradient control wires are also common. Regardless of the type of pipeline grounding system used, all of these AC mitigation approaches involve installing a grounding device to the affected structure to allow AC induced current and fault current to be quickly discharged off of the pipeline.

AC Modeling

Prior to installing an AC mitigation system, it is common to use a complex AC modeling software to evaluate the impact of fault currents and estimate the steady state induced currents that can be expected along the pipeline. This information is used to determine the quantity and location of mitigation required based on numerous factors, including the resistivity of the soil, the physical characteristics of the pipeline, the operating parameters of the HVAC transmission system and the spatial distances between them.

Engineered AC Mitigation Systems

Based on a thorough assessment of the pipeline and high voltageAC transmission system interaction, including modeling results when available, an AC mitigation system is designed by experienced engineers familiar with the mitigation strategies detailed above. This engineered AC mitigation system would detail the quantity and location of grounding installations required for a specific application

Other features of an engineered AC Mitigation system include:

Special Backfill

It is quite common to install the grounding conductor in a special backfill material. The purpose of the backfill can vary depending on the conductor material chosen and the type of backfill used. The benefits of various types of AC mitigation backfill include:

  • Enhanced surface area – conductive backfills such as carbon or conductive concrete are used to effectively increase the surface area of the grounding conductor reducing the overall resistance to earth.
  • Corrosion/Passivation Protection – some backfills are designed to protect the grounding conductor from corrosion or passivation of the conductor that could adversely affect the life or impede the performance of the grounding conductor.
  • Hydroscopicity – some hygroscopic backfills readily attract and retain water from the environment, helping to maintain a low uniform resistance around the grounding conductor.

Solid State Decouplers

These devices are almost always used in conjunction with AC mitigation systems and are usually installed wherever the grounding system is connected to the pipeline. These devices are designed to allow AC current to flow off the pipeline during steady-state or fault conditions while blocking all DC current. This effectively isolates the pipeline’s cathodic protection (CP) system from the AC mitigation system, preventing the mitigation system’s grounding conductors from taking CP current from the pipeline.

MATCOR provides complete AC Mitigation solutions including design, supply of materials, turnkey installations and comprehensive testing services.


Have questions or need a quote for an AC mitigation system or services? Contact us at the link below.

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Remediation Options for Aging Pipeline Coating Systems

A linear anode system may be an economical alternative to applying a new pipeline coating system or replacing aging pipelines.

by Ted Huck

Introduction: Addressing Aging Pipelines and Pipeline Coatings

aging pipeline coatingExternal corrosion is one of the significant threats facing pipeline operators worldwide. Historically, pipeline owners have employed a two-tiered approach towards mitigating corrosion risks. The primary defense against corrosion has been to apply a pipeline coating system that acts as a barrier, protecting the steel pipe from its environment. Cathodic protection is employed to supplement the coating system by providing protective current to the holidays or defects within the coating system. As with any aging structure, however, time takes its toll – for older pipelines this often results in an older coating system that starts to degrade in its primary function of protecting the pipeline from its environment.

This paper addresses the fundamental issue that many operators will face when evaluating their aging pipelines and pipeline coating systems. That issue is, quite simply, what is the best strategy to remediate an aging pipeline with deteriorating coating systems to maintain compliance with international standards for pipeline integrity. The options are to improve/upgrade the cathodic protection system, recoat the pipeline, or replace the pipeline. Each of these options will be discussed in detail and a decision matrix will be provided to facilitate the operator’s decision-making process.

Pipeline Coating Systems

Coating systems have been used on buried pipelines during the last hundred years and the technology continues to be the subject of significant research and innovation. Pipeline coating manufacturers are continually searching for better coatings to meet the varied needs of industry. Initially, the coatings were simple mixtures of crude pitches and solvents. These early bitumastic/asphaltic systems evolved into engineered coal tar enamel coating systems, which were prevalent into the 1960’s. The introduction of fusion-bonded epoxies (FBE) in the 1970’s quickly captured much of the pipeline market, although polyethylene, polypropylene and coal tar enamels are still used as well. The coatings industry continues to research and develop improved methods of providing more reliable and more economical coating systems.

When evaluating aging pipelines, coating condition is one of the critical issues that must be addressed. The coating provides the primary defense against corrosion and as the coating system ages and deteriorates, then the risks of corrosion increase exponentially. One of the challenges that must be addressed by pipeline owners is properly identifying the type and vintage of the coatings along a given pipeline. In many cases, different sections of pipeline may have different coating systems depending on the age of the pipeline and the standards in place at the time a section of pipe was installed.

Another critical consideration when evaluating aging pipeline coating systems is to identify whether the coating system fails shielding or non-shielding. Coating systems that fail in a non-shielding mode do not inhibit the flow of current making cathodic protection a viable alternative when considering how to remediate these lines. Other coating systems, principally tape coating systems, can fail in a manner that shields cathodic protection current and thus greatly reducing the possible remediation methods available.

Modern, over-the-line survey technologies have proven to be quite effective in evaluating coating quality and finding coating holidays. Technologies such as pipeline current mapping (PCM) which utilize a carrier signal transmitted along the pipeline with a receiver measuring the line attenuation along the pipeline length can accurately pinpoint areas of significant coating degradation even under concrete or asphalt. The information gathered using PCM in conjunction with pipe to soil close interval surveys (CIS) and direct current voltage gradient (DCVG) testing form the basis for identifying critical risk areas along aging pipelines. In-line inspection technologies using smart pigs also provide valuable data regarding coating quality.

Cathodic Protection

Pipeline coating systems are typically augmented by the application of cathodic protection. With a well-coated pipeline, cathodic protection can be economically applied to protect the coating holidays and defects by placing discreet anode beds that distribute current over long distances. In many cases ground beds can be located several kilometers apart and still provide sufficient current distribution to protect the entire pipeline. With some of today’s high technology factory applied coatings, the coating efficiencies are exceptionally high and the groundbed output requirements are very low. These discreet ground bed systems can either be deep anode ground beds or shallow ground beds located some distance off the pipeline.

Several issues must be considered when designing a cathodic protection system. These include coating quality, soil resistivity, available locations for electrical power, ground bed right of way issues, accessibility for maintenance, AC and DC stray current interference, and a host of additional issues. What is critical for aging pipelines is the regular evaluation of the effectiveness of the CP system. Frequently, as pipelines age and the coating quality begins to deteriorate, the CP systems are unable to provide sufficient current properly distributed to meet established cathodic protection criteria. In many cases, simply ramping up the output of the existing system or adding additional ground beds does not prove sufficient to address the problem.

Aging Pipeline Systems

Problem Identification

Aging pipeline systems with deteriorating coating systems suffer from poor current distribution and are characterized by areas of low potentials and exceedingly high levels of applied current density. The challenge with these pipeline systems is controlling current distribution to achieve the prescribed polarization levels consistent with international standards for adequate cathodic protection.

Figure 1 shows a deep well anode system with current output such that some areas are not meeting required off-potentials of -0.85 Volts to meet NACE criteria.

pipeline coating - insufficient cathodic protection

Initial Responses

The typical response to this problem is to increase the overall output of the deep well system (see Figure 2.) This generally does not alleviate the problems of not meeting the off-potential criteria and leads to over-polarizing the piping (potentials greater than -1.2 Volts.) This can result in coating disbondment further exacerbating the problem. The higher output current increases the ground bed’s consumption rate reducing operating life while raising operating costs appreciably. All this occurs without achieving the required levels of polarization to meet cathodic protection criteria.

pipeline coating - increased cathodic protection output

The next step that is taken to fix the cathodic protection current distribution problem is to add additional ground beds to reduce the distance between point sources. This too, proves to be an ineffective solution as the new ground bed provides only limited additional benefit (see Figure 3.)

pipeline coating - additional cathodic protection ground beds

Remediation Options

The problem cannot be economically resolved by the addition of an ever-increasing number of ground beds applying greater and greater amounts of additional current. The pipeline operator is then faced with a limited number of options: recoat the pipeline, replace the pipeline, or install a linear anode cathodic protection system.

Recoating/replacing is the only viable alternative for pipeline systems utilizing shielding type coatings such as tape wrap systems. Recoating costs typically run several hundred dollars per foot in open right of way areas and can be significantly more expensive in congested urban locations (these are ballpark numbers applicable to the United States and can vary significantly.) Recoating, when properly performed, can restore the pipeline coating system to an as new condition greatly extending the service life of the recoated section. The critical issue is to assure that the recoating is executed by an experienced coatings contractor with rigorous quality controls in place. Pipeline replacement is expensive and only performed when extensive third-party damage, significant corrosion or other extenuating circumstances warrant.

An economically attractive alternative to recoat/replace options is to utilize a linear anode configuration in lieu of point anode systems. This option is only viable when the coating system is non-shielding – this would include asphaltic and epoxy type coating systems. The application of a linear anode system typically costs between $20-30/foot in open right of way (again these are general price guidelines and can vary significantly.) In suburban or urban areas, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) can be an effective installation method with minimal surface disruptions. These linear anode systems eliminate the distribution problems experienced by point anode systems; they are in effect an infinite series of point anodes, which provide an optimum current distribution (see Figure 4.)

pipeline coating - linear anode system for optimum current distribution

In addition to confirming that the pipeline coating system is non-shielding and appropriate for the application of linear anodes, the linear anode system design must take into consideration the critical issue of voltage drop and its affect on current attenuation. Voltage drop can have a significant impact on DC power distribution to the linear anode system. Ideally, rectifiers would be located no further than half a mile to a mile apart, however, practical considerations including availability of AC power, right of way issues and other factors can force this to be extended further complicating the system design and affecting the installed cost.

While the design can be complicated by voltage drop considerations, one of the benefits of a linear anode system is that the power consumption is relatively low. Ground bed resistance, as determined by Dwight’s Equation, is significantly affected by anode length and this results in very low groundbed resistance values for linear anode systems relative to conventional ground beds. This makes the linear anode system much more suitable for low wattage power sources such as solar arrays and thermo-electric generators (TEG’s) than conventional ground beds whose wattage could be two or more times that of a linear anode system to achieve the same current discharge.

Conclusion

Aging pipeline systems with deteriorating coating systems present a difficult challenge to pipeline operators. The more the coating deteriorates, the more difficult it is to distribute current further away from the ground bed. The natural response to ramp up the ground bed output does an inadequate job of throwing current further but does result in increased current flow, higher current densities and over polarization near the ground bed further stressing the coating system. Adding additional ground beds also allows more current to be applied to the pipeline, but does not alleviate the current distribution issues. Ultimately, pipeline operators are faced with the choice of recoating/replacing the pipeline, or installing a linear anode system. The flowchart below (Figure 5) provides a decision matrix. Note that aging pipeline systems whose coating systems are determined to be in good condition through indirect and direct examination, require additional investigation to determine why criteria is not being achieved.

Aging pipeline coating decision matrix


For assistance with evaluating aging pipelines or installing linear anode cathodic protection systems, please CONTACT US.

Pipeline Rehabilitation and “Attenuation Deficit Disorder”

Around the world, the pipeline industry is seeing a growing number of “attenuation deficit disorder” outbreaks along their older pipelines. This is not a disease or a medical condition afflicting pipeline company personnel, but is a reference to a growing global problem with pipeline cathodic protection (CP) systems that are affected by older coatings that are failing. Pipeline operators need a solution for pipeline rehabilitation.

Pipeline Rehabilitation Solutions

Pipeline Rehabilitation ArticlePipeline operators worldwide are grappling with what to do as their 1950’s, once state of the art coatings systems start to fail. In our recent article in World Pipelines, Ted Huck examines two possible solutions for pipeline rehabilitation:

  • Recoating the Pipeline: At some point in the process of adding more CP stations and increasing the current output to levels that further degrades the coating, it becomes apparent to the pipeline operator that more drastic measures are required.
  • Rehabilitating the Cathodic Protection System: Under the right circumstances, an attractive alternative to the recoat approach is to consider the use of linear anodes as a rehabilitation strategy.

For additional information about these pipeline rehabilitation solutions, please read the full article in the September issue of World Pipelines. You can access the article HERE.

For assistance with cathodic protection design, MATCOR’s linear anodes for pipeline cathodic protection, project management or installation, please contact us at the link below.

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Not Just a Walk Along the ROW: Close Interval Potential Surveys

Close Interval Potential Surveys (CIPS) or close interval surveys (CIS) for those in the United States, are an invaluable assessment tool used to maintain pipeline integrity. Close Interval Surveys are frequently mandated by pipeline regulatory authorities.

Keys to a Successful CIPS Survey

  • Selecting a qualified survey crew
  • Advanced planning
  • Selecting the appropriate CIPS Type
  • Accurate CIPS Data Collection
  • Expert Data Analysis and Reporting

Close Interval Surveys (CIS, CIPS)Learn more about the keys to a successful CIPS survey and other considerations in our recent article appearing in World Pipelines, “Not Just a Walk Along the ROW” by Ted Huck.

READ THE ARTICLE

Are you ready for spring close interval surveys?

MATCOR is here to help. Our experienced and NACE-trained crews are ready to perform close interval surveys to keep your pipeline cathodic protection systems in compliance and operating effectively.

  • Excellent safety record
  • Accurate, reliable data collection
  • Daily field progress reports
  • Extensive engineering and IT support

Contact MATCOR about your CIPS requirements or learn more about our close interval survey capabilities

 

Pipeline Petroleum Transport Investment May Predict Growing Cathodic Protection Needs

If Warren Buffet’s investment strategy is any indication, pipeline efficiency is going to start playing a bigger role in moving crude oil and natural gas in the United States.

The Berkshire Hathaway luminary is pipeline-efficiency-cathodic-protectionspearheading a swap of about $1.4 billion in shares of Phillips 66 for full ownership of the energy company’s pipeline petroleum transport services business. The business unit’s focus is polymer-based additives that are used to move crude oil and natural gas through pipelines more efficiently by reducing drag.

The shift in Berkshire’s investment strategy comes amid a boom in U.S. crude oil and natural gas production. Since many liquids pipelines in the United States are operating at capacity, producers can use the pipeline petroleum transport additive to quickly increase capacity without immediately growing pipeline infrastructure.

Although future pipeline projects may be in the works to meet the sharp increase in demand, the process of gaining approval for new pipeline projects can be slowed by permitting.

A greater reliance on existing pipelines for transporting liquids means that producers and pipeline owners need to pay even more attention to cathodic protection management, according to Kevin Groll, project management director for MATCOR, a Pennsylvania-based company that specializes in cathodic protection products and services.

“Any time you have pipeline you have to protect it from corrosion,” Groll said. “And that’s especially true when you increase the value of a pipeline by increasing its capacity. If that pipeline were to develop a corrosion problem you’d be facing a situation where your profitability could suffer significantly.”

“With pipeline owners using additives to push greater volumes of liquids it becomes imperative to use cathodic protection products such as impressed current anodes and cathodic protection rectifiers to protect the increased capacity and profitability of the pipeline infrastructure.”

Further Reading

Berkshire Swaps $1.4 Billion in Phillips 66 Stock in Deal,” Bloomberg, December 31, 2013.

Following our success in 2013, MATCOR is expanding by hiring new talent for cathodic protection, corrosion engineering jobs.

MATCOR is a full service provider of customized cathodic protection systems to the oil & MATCOR_Vertical_webgas, power, water/wastewater and other infrastructures industries.  Cathodic Protection is a technique used to control the corrosion of a metal surface by making it the cathode of an electrochemical cell.  MATCOR has an array of proprietary cathodic protection products and systems combined with high-quality corrosion engineering services, and installation and maintenance services.

In business for over 40 years, MATCOR is considered the technology leader in cathodic protection and corrosion engineering.  MATCOR is headquartered in Chalfont, PA, has a major service operation in Houston, TX, provides turnkey services throughout the United States, and has a growing list of international distributors.  MATCOR has been named to the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Because of strong continued growth, MATCOR is seeking talented new team members to fill cathodic protection and corrosion engineering jobs.

MATCOR employees and culture are driven by three core principles. Whether a technician, engineer or manager, these principles guide us toward positive relationships with our clients and positive outcomes to every project we undertake.  These core values are:  We Respect Others, We Honor our Commitments and We Act in a Safe and Responsible Way.

“Our cathodic protection and corrosion engineering job openings, from technician to management positions, offer you the opportunity to grow with our team of seasoned cathodic protection experts and become part of a unique culture,” said Doug Fastuca, president of MATCOR, “As we are experiencing tremendous growth and request for our products and service offerings, this is an excellent time to join MATCOR.  In addition to competitive benefits, you can become NACE certified and enjoy other advanced educational opportunities.”

Our ideal job candidates will possess these values and hold a positive attitude.  This is a rapidly growing company with many new career opportunities.  Your cathodic protection, corrosion engineering and management job opportunity is here, today!

View the open position here: http://matcor.applicantpro.com/jobs/

Companies Performing Horizontal Directional Drilling Increase Efficiency, Open Door for More Cathodic Protection

As a result of increased drilling speeds, companies operating horizontal directional drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale region are drilling bigger wells more efficiently and affordably, and are producing more natural gas than ever before.

“Since I came up here three years ago, it’s 200 percent better,” said David Dewberry, who manages a Lycoming County drilling site in Pennsylvania’s Loyalsock State Forest for Seneca Resources Corporation, the exploration and production segment of Houston-based National Fuel Gas Company.

When Dewberry started working in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale in 2010, the oil and gas industry veteran said it took him more than a month to drill a natural gas well. However, improvements to horizontal directional drilling equipment and processes have cut drilling times significantly.

According to Dewberry, a new 2 1/2-mile well project that began on Dec. 4 will be completed in just 16 days. When that’s done, his rig will crawl 20 feet and begin drilling another well, in an assembly-line fashion known as pad drilling, until nine wells are completed on the site.

“We’ve become so much more efficient,” Dewberry said.

Greater drilling efficiency in the Marcellus Shale region has not only yielded longer horizontal wells in shorter times, it’s meant fewer rigs are required to meet, and even exceed, the previous pace of drilling and natural gas extraction. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has officially recognized that drill-rig counts are an obsolete MATCOR's Iron Gophermeasure of output. The administration now relies on drilling speed and production as a way to quantify efficiency.

Of course, an increase in drilling efficiency means more wells are being constructed. And that means companies performing horizontal directional drilling need to invest more in cathodic protection for wells and pipelines, according to Nick Judd, director of field operations for MATCOR, a Pennsylvania-based company that specializes in cathodic protection products and services.

“The need for managing and preventing corrosion is growing alongside the rush of new wells being drilled in the Marcellus Shale,” Judd said. “The process of hydraulic fracturing used to access the Marcellus Shale requires miles and miles of steel pipeline and every inch of it is subject to corrosion, which can affect the safety, performance, and efficiency of the natural gas well. In addition to wells and pipelines, the transfer piping associated with the gathering fields also requires corrosion prevention. An effective cathodic protection system extends beyond the well casing to include all piping from the casing of the well, to the piping in the pump station, the transfer piping and further downstream.”

“Impressed current anodes and linear anodes for cathodic protection, like our Iron Gopher™, are invaluable tools for horizontal directional drilling companies,” Judd said. “Controlling costs and mitigating issues associated with well and pipeline corrosion are critical factors for insuring the profitability goals of any drilling project.”

Further Reading

Marcellus Shale Drilling Becomes More Efficient,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 2013.

Bakken Shale Oil and Gas Companies Pave Way for Growing Cathodic Protection Demand

More than $22 billion will be spent to build over 23,000 miles of pipeline in North America between 2014 and 2020, according to a recently updated pipeline construction report.

The third-quarter 2013 update of the North American Onshore Pipeline Database Service, by Douglas-Westwood, an energy research group based in Faversham, England, also catalogued the planned construction of over 1,000 miles of pipelines transporting Permian crude oil from the Bakken Shale region.

The Bakken pipelines will enable Bakken Shale oil and gas companies to meet the logistical challenges of transporting crude oil from the remote shale region, which encompasses parts of the United States, including North Dakota and Montana, and Canada.

Because of North Dakota’s short construction season, hard terrain, and distance from the Gulf Coast, rail transportation and natural gas flaring by Bakken Shale oil and gas companies has boomed in recent years. However, the report estimates that the planned Bakken pipelines will further lower the current Bakken discount compared to WTI, which has hovered around $5 for most of 2013, and diminish the cost competitiveness of rail.

“While the capital cost of pipeline installation can sometimes be difficult to justify when compared to rail, a pipeline cathodic protection system can help companies control associated maintenance and repair costs,” said Jeff Didas, who works as a pipelines practice lead for MATCOR, a Pennsylvania-based cathodic protection management company.

“When the potentially devastating effects of corrosion are managed to the point that corrosion becomes a minor factor, pipelines transform into a far more cost effective option over the 30-plus year commitments typically required in pipeline shipping contracts,” Didas said. “A cathodic protection strategy for pipelines is vital for Bakken Shale oil and gas companies and others who are investing in takeaway infrastructures from shale plays in North America.”

One such area, the Utica Shale, has lagged in production to date compared to other major shale plays but is expected to spike soon, due in part to pending developments in pipeline construction and capacity.

Further Reading

Shale-Driven Pipeline Expenditure to Hit $22B Before 2020,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, December 12, 2013.

MATCOR Offers Take on Natural Gas Liquids Production and NGL Transportation

“There is much discussion about the abundance of natural gas deposits in Marcellus Shale, and there is tremendous focus in extracting this precious resource. However, the industry’s ability to get this product to the end user is impacted by the infrastructure that currently exists.

“While rail is a means to transport natural gas, MATCOR is working with a growing number of midstream companies in expanding transmission and distribution piping networks. The key is to get product to market in a cost-effective and safe manor, and MATCOR’s cathodic protection products and services help ensure any new pipeline, regardless of the product it delivers, is in compliance and protected from corrosion.”

John Rothermel, PE

Vice President of Sales, MATCOR

Pipelines Planned for NGL Transportation Through Central Pennsylvania

At least one company is looking to take advantage of the rapid growth of natural gas liquids production from two of the largest shale regions in the nation.

Sunoco Logistics, a Philadelphia-based company that transports, terminals, and stores crude oil and refined petroleum products, recently announced that it was surveying land for a new pipeline, dubbed Mariner II East, that would connect production of natural gas liquids (NGL) from the Marcellus and Utica  shale regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to one of the company’s oil and diesel tank farms outside of Mechanicsburg.

The company also has plans to convert its existing Mariner East I pipeline, which used to carry oil and diesel fuel west, so that it carries propane and ethane east to its facility in Marcus Hook, which had also been idled.

The company bought the refinery from the former Sunoco Co. earlier this year for $60 million and is spending an unspecified amount of money to upgrade it and bring it back online as a natural gas liquids production refinery.

Sunoco Logistics is betting on the continued growth of natural gas production, of which NGLs like propane and ethane are byproducts. Natural gas production has increased in recent years thanks to hydraulic fracking, which has resulted in a larger supply that has driven prices down and has therefore, like a circle, created bigger demand for natural gas.

As a result of this process, NGL production has climbed during the last four years from 50 million to 70 million barrels per month. But, without greater avenues for NGL transportation, the increased production is moot.

Sunoco Logistics says that its plan to build a new NGL transportation pipeline, and convert an old pipeline for NGL transportation, will help create a northeast NGL hub in Marcus Hook that will help meet the demands of NGL producers and local and overseas consumers.

The Mariner East projects are only a few of the pipelines being planned by Sunoco Logistics. The company has roughly a dozen oil and gas projects on the books over the next 12 months at a cost of $1.3 billion, four times what it spent on capital expenditures each of the last four years.

MATCOR offers cathodic protection safety products and services to companies like Sunoco Logistics, which require cathodic protection equipment to maximize safety, efficiency, and capital investment in their pipeline projects.

Further Reading

Sunoco Logistics Plans Marcellus, Utica Pipeline Through Susquehanna Valley,” The Patriot News, Nov. 21, 2013.

Enbridge Energy applies to build pipeline from North Dakota

Enbridge Energy has applied to build the largest oil pipeline yet from western North Dakota’s booming oil patch and will soon begin courting oil producers to reserve space, a key step in a $2.6 billion project that would move millions of gallons of oil to Minnesota and Superior, Wis.

Enbridge Energy, based in Calgary, Alberta, is proposing the 612-mile Sandpiper pipeline to carry 225,000 barrels of oil each day to a hub in northern Minnesota and 375,000 barrels to one in northwestern Wisconsin. If approved by regulators, it would be the largest pipeline moving oil out of North Dakota, the nation’s second-leading producer of oil behind Texas.

North Dakota has more than doubled its oil production in the past two years, closing in on a million barrels of oil a day. But because of the lack of pipeline capacity in the state, about 60% of the state’s daily oil production is being shipped by rail. A barrel is equivalent to 42 gallons.

Enbridge Energy comments that the project is “needed and in the public interest.”

Oil shipped to Superior would be shipped through Wisconsin on a network of pipelines already in place. Enbridge Energy has proposed an expansion that would not add pipe in the state, but would expand pump stations to allow more oil to flow through the Wisconsin pipelines.

The pipeline is the biggest project yet to come before North Dakota regulators to move oil from the rich Bakken and Three Forks formations in the western part of the state, said Brian Kalk, who heads the North Dakota Public Service Commission. The three-member commission oversees a slew of public interests, from pipelines to grain elevators, though much of its recent work has involved the oil and natural gas industry.

A spokesperson for Enbridge Energy said the new pipeline would provide “a timely, cost effective and long-term transportation solution, thereby serving the public’s interest in improved access to an abundant, secure, and reliable crude oil supply to satisfy consumers’ demand for refined products.”

Kalk said the commission is reviewing the application and that at least three public hearings will be held in communities along the pipeline’s proposed route in North Dakota.

If it is approved, the two-phase expansion project for Wisconsin entails construction or upgrades at 13 Wisconsin pumping stations, along with three in Illinois, that would permit the pipeline from Superior to Illinois to triple its capacity to 1.2 million barrels a day from 400,000 barrels a day.

Enbridge Energy operates about 50,000 miles of pipelines in North America, and several hundred miles of pipelines in North Dakota, including one that runs between Minot, N.D., and Clearbrook, Minn. The line, built in 1962, has the capacity to ship 210,000 barrels of North Dakota crude daily, or about 8.8 million gallons.

SOURCE: http://www.jsonline.com/business/canadian-firm-applies-to-build-pipeline-from-north-dakota-to-superior-b99135995z1-230738391.html