Tag Archives: Marcellus Shale

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.

Natural gas growth means more pipelines in Chesco

WEST CHESTER – Local officials look to Columbia Gas Transmission’s plans to install another pipeline as an inevitable progression in Chester County due to the growth of the natural gas business in Pennsylvania.

“As I’ve often said, Chester County is already pipeline-central, and their numbers are going to increase, not decrease, in the years ahead,” said State Senator Andy Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland. “I am not against natural gas. I am for protecting our communities, our property values and our natural resources like the Brandywine Creek against harm from companies simply looking to get their product to ports in Philadelphia, Wilmington or Baltimore – or anywhere else – as quickly as possible.”

Columbia Gas Transmission is planning to install 8.8 miles of natural gas pipeline that will travel from the Eagle Compression Station and into West Bradford.

State Senator Andy Dinniman on Friday said that the natural gas pipeline proposed for Chester County by Columbia Gas Transmission is only the latest and will certainly be followed by others as the natural gas industry moves more and more Marcellus Shale natural gas to market.

Dinniman said this is why he took the lead last year in demanding the strictest state oversight of Williams Gas Pipeline’s 7-mile pipeline replacement project, and why he is introducing a three-bill package aimed at increasing the public’s ability to stay informed about pipeline projects and at protecting people’s homes, communities, and taxpayer-funded farmland from being harmed by pipeline projects.

According to Chevalier Mayes, communications manager for NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, the pipeline, 26 inches in diameter, will affect 180 landowners in the pipeline’s right-of-way once construction for the project begins, which is anticipated to begin in April 2015. The pipeline is expected to be operational in September of that year, and would lie adjacent to an existing pipeline which is also owned by NiSource, parent company of Columbia Gas.

Mayes also said that the expansion project is a planned response for the need to meet increased demand for additional capacity in natural gas traveling through pipelines.

Columbia’s next steps for the project will be to enter into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s pre-filing process. The purpose of requesting entry into the commission’s pre-filing process is to allow stakeholder and environmental issues to be identified and resolved at earlier stages in the project’s development and planning. According to Martin Indars, spokesman for state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland, the pre-filing process is expected to begin later this month.

Tommy Ryan, township manager of West Bradford, said that although representatives from NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas, had reached out late last year to advise them of their intended pipeline, he hopes that communication will not cease there. While NiSource representatives have contacted residents in the pipeline’s Right of Way, as well as to those within 50 feet of it, Ryan said he expects regular updates from NiSource as they move through the approval and installation process. About 14 properties will be directly affected by the pipeline in West Bradford.

According to Mayes, once they have entered into the pre-filing process, Columbia representatives will notify the public through open houses and other informational events. Those types of meetings will be ongoing throughout the project until the pipeline is operational.

A toll-free number will become available at an unknown later date and company representatives will be available to answer any questions stakeholders may have.

The pipeline is part of Columbia’s Side Expansion project, which will feature looping pipelines in both Chester County and Gloucester County, N.J. The pipeline will cross wetlands and waterways in the area; however, the exact number of crossings has not yet been determined.

SOURCE: http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20130210/NEWS/130219975/natural-gas-growth-means-more-pipelines-in-chesco#full_story

PVR’s Wyoming Pipeline Comes Online

PVR Partners, L.P. ( PVR ) announced the completion of construction activities of its latest natural gas trunk line in the north-central province of Pennsylvania. The midstream project, Wyoming Pipeline, also came online commercially. The pipeline system was initially constructed by Chief Gathering LLC until it got acquired by PVR Partners in May 2012.

The pipeline is 30 miles in length and spans across the northern Wyoming County southward to connect with the Transco interstate pipeline system in Luzerne County. The 750 million cubic feet per day (“MMcfd”) capacity system will provide midstream services to the producers operationally active in the Marcellus Shale play. The program was bankrolled by funds that were added in the financing agreement during the purchase of Chief Gathering.

Presently, the partnership has secured contracts for reliable and efficient services on the Wyoming Pipeline from five independent producers and expects more agreements to come on the table. These agreements are wholly fee based and are insulated from any direct commodity price risks. For 2012, the initial firm transportation volume contracted by the producers totaled 255 MMcfd.

We believe the acquisition of Chief Gathering LLC is a strategic fit and will be a profitable addition to the partnership’s asset portfolio. The timely execution of this cost-effective project will enable the partnership to carry out its high-quality programs in the Marcellus play smoothly and also contribute positively to its future business plans in the region.

The partnership faced constraints in supplying volumes from its Susquehanna/Wyoming gathering facility to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline 300 Line which impacted PVR Partners’ operations. However, the partnership expects the Wyoming Pipeline-Transco Pipeline connectivity will lead to increase in volumes on the Susquehanna/Wyoming gathering facility by more than 20%.

The ongoing developments at the Susquehanna/Wyoming gathering unit will enable supply volumes to Wyoming Pipeline to further expand with the linking of additional wells thereby increasing productivity.

Although natural gas prices are currently on a downhill, we anticipate with rising demand for electricity in the U.S., gas prices will improve steadily, which could add to the partnership’s near term top-line. Nonetheless, unexpected infrastructure outages and pipeline accidents are risks that could pose serious challenges to the partnership’s operations.

We remind investors that the partnership had divested its Crossroads natural gas gathering system and processing plant for roughly $63 million to DCP Midstream Partners, LP ( DPM ), in mid-June 2012, to focus on the development of its core midstream business in the Marcellus shale and Texas plays.

The Zacks Consensus Estimates for the third quarter and full year 2012 for PVR Partners are pegged at 9 cents per unit and 54 cents per unit, respectively. One of its competitors is Missouri-based Arch Coal Inc. ( ACI ).

The partnership owns and operates a string of natural gas midstream pipeline systems and processing plants and is also involved in the management of coal as well as natural gas properties. PVR Partners’ current market capitalization stands at $2.21 billion.

SOURCE: http://community.nasdaq.com/News/2012-10/pvrs-wyoming-pipeline-comes-online-analyst-blog.aspx?storyid=178825#ixzz28XP80bvO

Gov. Corbett: Marcellus betters society

PHILADELPHIA — Gov. Tom Corbett on Thursday placed high hopes on the development of the Marcellus Shale to help him achieve his goals for Pennsylvania.

“I’m convinced that we’re beginning a new industrial revolution for the U.S. and especially for Pennsylvania,” he said at the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s annual Shale Gas Insight Conference in Philadelphia.

By the end of his tenure, which he hopes will be in six years, the governor envisions having accomplished three things.

“I want the state on sound financial footing,” he said. “I want the state to be able to say that every Pennsylvanian who wants a job has a job. And I want every person in this state trained and educated for the jobs of the 21st century.”

The gas industry’s economic contribution to the state is furthering those goals, he said.

“The Marcellus boom isn’t simply about advancing business. It’s about advancing society,” Corbett said.

In fact, during recent travels to Germany and France, the governor touted the region’s cheap energy and strategic location for foreign businesses looking to locate in the U.S.

Corbett said the anti-severance tax crowd was vindicated last week when the state received its first round of impact fee payments that neared $200 million.

“We got that right,” he said. “That’s the difference between throwing together a quick fix and planning for real progress.”

A severance tax would have brought in half of that, he said. Last week, the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Centerdisagreed.

As convention center security kept watch over the planned anti-fracking protests outside of the building, Corbett also fired some shots at those who oppose natural gas extraction.

“We are advancing even in the face or unreasoning opposition,” he said. “Opponents agree that we can land a rover on Mars, but can’t bring themselves to think that we can safely drill a mile into our own soil.”

The governor also credited shale development with saving one of the three Philadelphia refineries that were on the chopping block at this time last year.

On Sept. 19, Philadelphia Energy Solutions announced its plans to process shale gas at the former Sunoco refinery.

Corbett said he can easily see a time when all three refineries will be turning Marcellus gas into liquid fuels and chemical feedstocks.

The governor apologized to the crowd for missing last year’s conference because of flooding in southeastern Pennsylvania and thanked participants for creating jobs in the state. As he walked out to music resembling the theme from Star Wars, Corbett received a partial standing ovation.

SOURCE: http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/energy/2012/09/corbett-marcellus-betters-society.html?page=all

Pipeline set to link pair of projects – Marcellus Shale

Mike Stice, President of Chesapeake Midstream Development, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, spoke during the Marcellus Midstream Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh this week. He said the potential for collecting methane, ethane, butane, propane, pentane and even oil make the Utica and Marcellus shale formations very attractive to companies like his.

“The diversity of the opportunities is where the strength lies,” he said. “We find ourselves on the cusp of a breakthrough for natural gas and oil.”

Chesapeake Energy and its partners will run a 12-inch diameter pipeline to connect the northern and southern portions of its $900 million natural gas processing complex in Harrison and Columbiana counties.

In total, the Oklahoma City-based company plans to lay 200 miles of pipelines across Eastern Ohio in 2012, most of which will be located in Harrison, Jefferson, Columbiana and Carroll counties.

Chesapeake is building the plant with M3 Midstream and EV Energy Partners. Frank Tsuru, president and chief executive officer of M3, also spoke at the conference, highlighting the 12-inch pipeline that will connect the Harrison and Columbiana portions of the major complex.

According to a map on the M3 website, it appears the Harrison County portion of the complex would be built near Scio, while the Columbiana County part would be located near Hanoverton.

The processing facility to be located in Columbiana County will have an initial capacity of 600 million cubic feet per day. Natural gas liquids, via the 12-inch pipeline, will be delivered to a central hub complex in Harrison County that will feature an initial storage capacity of 870,000 barrels. The Harrison County facility also will have fractionation capacity of 90,000 barrels per day, as well as a substantial rail-loading facility, according to Chesapeake.

Chesapeake officials also want to make sure the industry flourishes in Ohio, noting they agree with a comment Gov. John Kasich made during his State of the State speech at Steubenville High School earlier this year.

During the conference, Mark Halbritter, managing director of commercial activities for Dominion Transmission, discussed the company’s $500 million processing complex, which is scheduled to open south of Moundsville by the end of this year. He said a second phase of the plant that would be completed next year could raise the final cost to about $800 million. He said the facility is strategically positioned along the Ohio River so it can process gas derived from the Utica and Marcellus formations.

As for ethane that is derived at the Natrium site, Halbritter said the complex will be able to send ethane to Canada, the Gulf Coast, or to any local ethane cracker, such as the one Royal Dutch Shell plans for Monaca, Pa.

“We expect enough ethane to support both pipelines and up to two crackers,” Halbritter’s presentation states, adding the company anticipates more than 400,000 barrels of ethane will be derived from the Marcellus and Utica shales by 2020.

Jeannie Stell is the editor of Midstream Business magazine, said industry leaders have learned valuable lessons over the past few years of working in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

“It is never too early to start applying for a permit,” she referenced as one of these lessons. A second lesson, Stell added, is that laying pipelines in the sometimes rugged terrain of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania can be more challenging than doing so in the relative flat country of Oklahoma and Texas.

MATCOR was an active participate and exhibitor at this conference.

SOURCE: http://www.heraldstaronline.com/page/content.detail/id/571616/Pipeline-set-to-link-pair-of-projects.html?nav=5010

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission plans to expand oversight rules on natural gas pipelines

State regulators are moving toward stricter oversight of natural gas pipelines, though officials say that effort began before the Allentown explosion that killed five people one year yesterday.

“We’ve been really taking a close look, partly because of some of the tragic incidents, but also because of the expansion of Marcellus Shale in the state,” said Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for thePennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

The PUC is currently accepting public comment on a proposal that would require natural gas utilities to annually submit pipeline replacement and performance plans.

If the new rules — proposed on Nov. 10 — take effect, utilities with intrastate operating revenues of more than $40 million would have to file plans this spring or summer with final approval scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013.

The plans basically require utilities to submit replacement time frames for aging pipes as well as updates on damage prevention and corrosion control efforts.

The PUC said it is also enhancing “frost patrol” reviews — winter surveys that gas utilities conduct to assess how safely pipes can endure freezing temperatures — to demand more frequent and detailed updates.

The state said it regularly reviews safety protocols, though it acknowledged the Feb. 9, 2011, explosion added urgency.

The explosion, which leveled an entire block of homes on North 13th Street, is believed to have resulted from a break in a UGI Utilities natural gas main.

The PUC said a surge in natural gas drilling relating to Marcellus Shale as well as a need to bring state standards in better compliance with evolving federal regulations influenced the changes.

Reading-based UGI said it supports the state revisions. The company said it began upgrading procedures before the blast, though it admitted making further improvements, such as conducting more comprehensive leak surveys, after the explosion.

That coincides with the company’s accelerated timeframe for replacing cast-iron pipe with high-density plastic or coated steel, UGI spokesman Joseph Swope said. 

“We have been aggressive,” Swope said. “We have accelerated those plans.”

Other nearby utilities said the explosion prompted a review of safety protocols, though none said they changed policy directly because of the Allentown blast.

PECO Gas spokesman Ben Armstrong said the company, which serves Bucks, Montgomery, and other counties, spends about $80 million a year to maintain its natural gas system.

Armstrong said PECO conducts walking surveys on all transmission pipelines every two months, leak inspections every six months, and annual inspection of valves, among other reviews.

“None of the procedures were revised directly because to the incidents in Allentown or Philadelphia,” Armstrong said, referring to another explosion last year that killed a Philadelphia Gas Works employee. “We have a vigorous maintenance and inspection system in place.”

Elizabethtown Gas, a subsidiary of AGL Resources serving Warren and Hunterdon counties, said system upgrades are ongoing irrespective of the blast.

Spokesman Duane Bourne said Elizabethtown is completing a $108 million improvement plan approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that would replace 70 miles of aging cast-iron pipe across its New Jersey service area. Work began in 2009.

SOURCE: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2012/02/pennsylvania_public_utility_co.html

$520 million Marcellus Lateral pipeline project in doubt

A $520 million pipeline project thought to have the potential to support 2,500 Ohio construction jobs might be dead.

The Ohio Power Siting Board, the body that regulates major utility projects in Ohio, rejected the application for the Marcellus Lateral Pipeline more than a year ago. Kinder Morgan, a pipeline developer, owner and operator out of Houston, has made no official moves on the project since it submitted that application in November 2010.

The 16-inch pipeline was to snake 240 miles under Ohio, from the border with the West Virginia panhandle to a connection with larger pipeline just west of Toledo. It was designed to carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale formation, a layer of rock rich in oil and gas that sits underneath much of western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the border counties of Ohio.

Its path would have crossed 15 Ohio counties, including Muskingum, Coshocton, Knox, Morrow, Marion, Crawford and Sandusky.

This past spring, the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune and Mount Vernon News quoted a Kinder Morgan spokesman as saying the project still was a go and to expect construction by the end of 2011. The company would first need to get approval from the siting board, which it has not sought, a board spokesman said.

When asked to comment about the project’s status, Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Emily Mir wrote: “We continue to evaluate a number of projects in the Marcellus area but do not have any definite information at this time on the lateral project other than as part of our re-evaluation we are withdrawing our application for the project.”

She declined to answer further questions.

Dale Arnold, director of energy policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau, had been conducting educational meetings with bureau members on pipeline issues in advance of the Marcellus Lateral Project.

He said the wording of Kinder Morgan’s statement suggests it is moving on to something else. Arnold said he has seen alternative energy projects (also governed by the siting board) pulled in the same manner.

“From my experience on work with wind and solar projects, when a company withdraws an application, they are looking at something entirely different,” he said.

The state is “still considering the application active, but just delayed,” said Matt Butler, spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which oversees the siting board.

As of Friday, Kinder Morgan had made no filing to withdraw its application, which would close the case.

The application was deemed incomplete in 2011 because it failed to include ecological data and enough detail on an alternative route.

Butler said the commission last heard from Kinder Morgan in the fall of 2011. The company relayed it was evaluating options at that point, he said.

Local leaders in the path of the pipeline are curious about Kinder Morgan’s plans.

Jenny Vermillion, a commissioner from Sandusky County, said her office had tried contacting the company in December, but had no success.

Jim Porter and Steve Douglass, commissioners in Muskingum and Guernsey counties, respectively, say they haven’t heard anything new about the project.

“They have not talked to us for a year of maybe longer,” Douglass said.

Douglass said Kinder Morgan had almost daily contact with Guernsey’s county engineer when the Rockies Express Pipeline, a multi-billion dollar interstate pipeline that was built in Ohio in 2009, was in construction.

The pipeline plan was announced by Kinder Morgan in April 2010. At that time, the timeline called for construction to begin in July 2011 and finish one year later.

In a year-end report to investors, filed a month after its application was submitted to the power siting board, Kinder Morgan talked of the need to “continue to pursue commercial agreements with shippers.”

The company, according to an October 2010 investor presentation, was seeking commitments from producers that they would use the lateral. Combined, Kinder Morgan was waiting for a promise of at least 25 million barrels per day for 10 years before it moved forward.

Richard Kinder, chairman and CEO of the company, told analysts during a conference call earlier this month about no fewer than five projects — costing more than half a billion dollars — slated to improve the company’s liquid products transportation. No mention was made of the Marcellus Lateral.

Its biggest investment this year is likely to be the expected closing of a $38 billion deal to buy rival El Paso. El Paso operates a gas pipeline near Glouster that was the source of an explosion that destroyed three homes and a barn and damaged a second barn in November.

SOURCE: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/BA/20120128/NEWS01/201280305/-520-million-natural-gas-pipeline-project-doubt?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Pennsylvania Public Utility posts new rules for replacing aging pipelines

Noting the Feb. 9 natural gas explosion that killed five Allentown residents, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission last week proposed requiring gas utilities to file plans outlining how much aging underground pipelines leak and when the utilities intend to replace them.

The PUC unanimously agreed without discussion to seek comments on the proposal, which was developed in light of “recent tragic incidents” as well as the growth of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells and changing federal gas safety regulations, a PUC statement said. Comments can be filed with the PUC up to Dec. 2.

“These plans will tentatively be required to include infrastructure replacement time frames and a proposal for the means by which the cost of the infrastructure replacement program should be addressed in rates,” PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson and Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr. said in joint statement.

Under the proposal, utilities would have to file pipeline replacement and performance plans. The plans should include a time frame for replacing aging pipelines and performance standards that include damage prevention, corrosion control and distribution system leaks, it said. Utilities would have to file plans next spring or summer, with final approval by the PUC late next year or early 2013.

Replacing old lines became a higher priority for Allentown on Feb. 9, after a pipeline owned by UGI Utilities installed in 1928 leaked, leading to the fatal blast at 13th and Allen streets. After the explosion, UGI released a plan showing it intended to replace six miles of old cast-iron pipeline in Allentown, more than doubling what it did in 2010. As of earlier this year, Allentown had 79 miles of cast-iron natural gas pipe beneath its streets and about 230 total in the Lehigh Valley.

UGI officials Thursday had not had an opportunity to consider the PUC’s action, said Daniel Adamo, business development director. “UGI will completely review the tentative order and will plan to comment by the deadline,” he said. “We believe it is our responsibility to safely deliver natural gas to our customers,” he added.

The commission action also requires gas utilities to provide distribution integrity management program plans, which are required by the federal government, with the PUC by Nov. 30. In 2009, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued new regulations that required gas distribution companies, such as UGI, to adopt written plans for continuous review of data to identify threats to pipeline systems, evaluating risks, and implementing measures to reduce risks.

As part of its proposed regulations, the PUC also plans to mandate “frost surveys,” which are leak surveys that utilities perform during cold weather months. The regulation would require frost surveys from Nov. 1 to April 30 each year. Previously, the PUC asked, but hadn’t mandated, frost surveys.

The leak surveys are to be conducted weekly or monthly, depending on the location and size of the line, the PUC said. The utilities would be required to report all leaks every other week and provide a schedule for repairing them, it said.

SOURCE: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pennsylvania-puc-gas-pipeline-safety-20111110,0,1755685.story

Manhattan Residents expressed fears for proposed 30-inch high pressure Natural Gas Pipeline

West Side residents expressed their fears at a Tuesday Community Board 2 forum about a proposed 30-inch, high-pressure, natural gas pipeline crossing the Hudson River from New Jersey to Gansevoort St.

The Spectra Energy pipeline between Linden, N.J., and the West Village has the support of the Bloomberg administration, which has mandated that thousands of residential furnaces using high-polluting No. 4 and No. 6 heating oil be converted in the next few years to relatively clean-burning natural gas.

Jason Mansfield, chairperson of the C.B. 2 Environmental, Public Health and Safety Committee, said the forum was intended to help draft the board’s response to the FERC review before the Oct. 31 deadline for public comment.

The federal agency is holding a meeting in Greenwich Village at P.S. 41, W. 11th St. at Sixth Ave., at 7 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 20, to take public testimony.

“This is an important meeting since your comments will be entered into the record and FERC can hear from you firsthand,” Mansfield said at opening of the Tuesday forum. The Oct. 4 pipeline forum was the committee’s third in two years.

Later this week the public will be able to file comments on the project directly with FERC online through the C.B. 2 Web site at www.CB2manhattan.org.

Representatives of Spectra Energy, Con Edison and the city Department of Environmental Protection spoke at length about the need for the pipeline and the safety measures to be employed in its construction and operation.

But opponents insisted they were not convinced that a new natural gas source was really needed, much less a large, high-pressure line with potential safety risks.

Regarding safety, one member of the audience demanded, “How can we trust you?” citing the Sept. 9, 2010, explosion and fire from Pacific Gas & Electric’s natural gas line that destroyed 53 homes, damaged 120 other buildings and killed one person in San Bruno, California, near San Francisco.

Spectra said the proposed pipeline would have specially made and inspected high-strength flexible pipe with coating inside and out, buried 3 feet or more with special fill. In operation, technicians monitoring operations via robotics could remotely shut down the line.

But C.B. 2 members noted that the board last year suggested that automatic shutoff valves might be more reliable than remote control shutoff. However, Spectra representatives at the Tuesday forum said technology for remote shutoff was better than automatic shutoff technology.

“A lightning strike could trigger an automatic shutoff,” said Ed Gonzales, Spectra project manager.

The Spectra pipeline under review would cross the southwest corner of Gansevoort Peninsula, cross the West Side Highway at Gansevoort St. and terminate on the west side of the proposed Whitney Museum property.

Con Edison would build its own high-pressure, 30-inch, natural gas line from the Gansevoort terminus of the Spectra pipeline along 10th Ave. for 1,500 feet to a Con Edison connection at 15th St. at 10th Ave.

But the Con Edison connector line is not part of the FERC environmental review. Cheryl Payne, the engineer in charge of Con Edison’s gas transmission, said the connector line has not been designed yet. But she said the materials and construction method would conform to the same high standards of the Spectra pipeline.

The Con Edison connector line would also use a remote shutoff system. Like the Spectra representative, Payne said an automatic shutoff system could be triggered by an event like lightning and needlessly leave large areas of the city without service.

C.B. 2’s Mansfield said later that the environmental review of the Spectra project should include Con Edison’s connector line.

“I don’t think they really made the case that the pipeline is needed,” he added. “It just wasn’t justified in view of its potential for catastrophic damage.”

Many of the project’s opponents at the Tuesday meeting had in mind the impending rules on natural gas production by high-volume hydrofracture drilling in New York State’s Southern Tier.

Spectra representatives said the company’s business was only natural gas transportation, not production. Indeed, the draft environmental impact statement indicates that the pipeline would be able to bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale regions of southern New York and northern Pennsylvania into the Manhattan.

Catherine Skopic, an environmental advocate, told the Oct. 4 forum that it was time for investment and exploration of renewable resources like solar voltaic cells and wind energy instead off fossil fuel.

Opponents were also skeptical about the common assumption that natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuels, if the environmental damage of hydrofracture drilling is included in the assumption.

Speaking to the fear of terrorism, Frank Eady, a former member of Community Board 4, raised the specter of Stuxnet, a computer program that he said was used to sabotage and set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“That program is out there,” he warned.

Spectra representatives acknowledged that they didn’t know about Stuxnet, but Gonzales said the company monitored potential cyberspace danger.

Mav Moorhead, a Lower Manhattan resident angrily demanded, “Who will be accountable when the neighborhood blows up?” she said, adding, “We don’t have a hospital,” referring to the closing of St. Vincent’s.

SOURCE: http://www.thevillager.com/villager_441/gaspipeline.html