Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nord Stream gas pipeline through Baltic Sea gets German approval

BERLIN - German authorities granted formal approval on Dec. 28 for construction of a pipeline to transport natural gas under the Baltic Sea from Russia.
Only one permit from Finland is still required, the company running the project said.
Nord Stream AG said Germany's Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency granted a permit to build a 19-mile stretch of the pipeline in Germany's exclusive economic zone.
Nord Stream already has a second German permit covering the 31-mile section in German territorial waters, and has permits from Denmark, Sweden and Russia, through whose waters the pipeline will pass.
"We are firmly on schedule to start construction of the pipeline in spring 2010 and to start transporting gas in 2011," Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig said in a statement.
The only permit still outstanding for the $10.6 billion project is one of two required from Finland, the consortium said.
Once completed, the 750-mile pipeline is expected to carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year from the Russian port of Vyborg to the German port of Greifswald.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Caspian Pipeline Consortium approves oil pipeline and terminal expansion

ALMATY, Kazakhstan - The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) plans to expand the capacity of the 1,580-km. CPC Pipeline, which runs from western Kazakhstan to the Black Sea coast in Russia, to 67 MMt/a of oil.
The expansion project was approved at a recent meeting of the CPC board of directors. The meeting also covered matters regarding the project management, purchase of long-lead equipment and financing approaches for the project.
The expansion will involve construction of 10 additional pump stations - two to be located in Kazakhstan and eight to be located in Russia - six crude oil storage tanks near Novorossiysk, and a third single point mooring at the CPC Marine Terminal.
Construction is expected to begin as early as next year with completion in 2014.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bad luck BP involved in yet another pipeline spill at Prudhoe Bay

ANCHORAGE - A new spill has occurred in the Prudhoe Bay oil field, the Department of Environmental Conservation said on Dec. 22.
The spill was discovered on Dec. 21 by a BP oil field operator doing a routine inspection at a drill site. It was coming from a six-inch pipeline carrying a mixture of oil, water and natural gas, officials said.
BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the break occurred where the production line left the well house.
"That break triggered the automatic shut-off valve of the well," he said.
The force of the release destroyed the back of the well house and blew open its front doors. When the pipe separated, it misted the surrounding area.
DEC said about 12,000 square feet of the well's gravel pad was sprayed with oil, as well as an undetermined area of tundra.
The cause and amount of the spill were not immediately known.
Rinehart said it appears to be a small spill "because it happened and ended quickly."
A BP spill response team was sent on Dec. 21 to delineate the contaminated area, state officials said. Two DEC staff who were in Prudhoe Bay also have been sent to the well pad at Drill Site 6 to evaluate the spill.
BP operates the Prudhoe Bay oil field.
In November, one of the North Slope's biggest spills - 46,000 gallons of oil, water and natural gas - was reported at the Lisburne oil field, another BP-operated site. That spill occurred when an 18-inch pipeline split on Nov. 29.
Officials believe ice plugged up the Lisburne pipe and likely caused a two-foot-long rupture at the bottom of the pipe, allowing oil and water to spray out across a three-quarter acre of tundra. Most of the oil and water congealed in a large pile under the pipe

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Russian oil exec beats wife who refused to watch movie with him

LONDON - Ratis Gailis, a Russian pipeline magnate, beat up his former wife after she refused to watch a war film with him, a British court heard on Dec. 11.
Gailis, a former Soviet army colonel, flew into a rage after a day of drinking when Vita Kokoreviga failed to accede to his demands.
He smashed property on the Loudwater estate - one of Britain’s most exclusive estates where one in four residents is a millionaire - before headbutting and strangling Miss Kokoreviga.
Gailis, a director of a company which sets up oil pipelines between Russia and Scandinavia, was in the UK on a 180-day business visa.
On July 2, he was at his mother’s home when his former wife turned up.
Gailis, who had mixed prescription drugs with alcohol, grabbed her hand and made her follow him around the house, she told police.
In a statement, she said she realized he was very drunk and there was an argument about loud music, with Gailis being abusive to their daughter.
She said: “He tried to hold my hand and force me to watch a war film I didn’t want to watch.
“He tried to cuddle me and I told him I did not want to watch the film.
“He tried to head butt me. He head butted me again and got my right eye.
“I told the two children to pack and called a taxi.
“I was packing in the bedroom and he said ‘You cannot charge me, no one saw’.”
Hemel Hempstead magistrates heard that as the situation escalated, Gailis picked up a large candle and smashed a glass picture frame.
Miss Kokoreviga then hit Gailis with a wooden sculpture on his back before falling on a sofa.
She said: “He started to strangle me around my neck. I bit his finger and he let me go and I waited in my room until the police arrived.”
Gailis was given a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and made the subject of a restraining order prohibiting contact with his ex-wife for three years.
He was also given an exclusion order, banning him from the borough of Watford, where his wife lives.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Koch expanding South Texas crude oil pipeline capabilities

WICHITA, Kan. - Koch Pipeline Co., L.P., will increase its crude oil pipeline transportation capacity by about 25 percent in January 2010.
Flint Hills Resources will process the additional supplies from the Eagle Ford production at its Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery.
Koch Pipeline has about 540 miles of active crude oil transportation lines in 16 Texas counties. In addition, the company has ongoing relations with other crude distribution systems that further its ability to provide services in this growing production area.
“We have plans to further grow our system’s capacity as needed to meet new production increases,” said Kim Penner, president of Koch Pipeline.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Study says Canadian oilsands pollution exceeds official estimates

EDMONTON, Alta. - An independent study suggests pollution from Alberta's oilsands is nearly five times greater and twice as widespread as industry figures say.
The study says toxic emissions from the controversial industry are equal to
a major oil spill occurring every year. Government and industry officials
say contamination in area soils and rivers is natural, but the report links
it firmly to oilsands mining.
"We found rather massive inputs of toxic organic compounds by the oilsands industry to the Athabasca River and its tributaries," said David Schindler, a co-author of the study. "The major contribution to the river was from industry."
The study, published Dec. 14 in the U.S.-based Proceedings of National
Academy of Science, also takes direct aim at Alberta's monitoring program.
"Our study confirms the serious defects of the (regional aquatic monitoring
program)," it says. "More than 10 years of inconsistent sampling design, inadequate statistical power and monitoring-insensitive responses have
missed major sources of (contamination) to the Athabasca watershed."
The report is the latest to question official figures and point out the industry's environmental costs - from acid rain to reduced songbird populations.
In the summer of 2008, Schindler's team set up monitoring stations on the
Athabasca and several of its tributaries. Some stations were upstream of both the oilsands and facilities, others were in the middle of the deposits
but upstream of industry and still others were downstream of both.
It found petrochemical concentrations did not increase until the streams flowed past oilsands facilities, especially when they flowed past new construction.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Louisiana Oil Port looks to expand storage capacity

NEW YORK - The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is soliciting offers to build additional oil storage, Dale Rollins, vice president of business development for LOOP, said on Dec. 8.
"LOOP in the future will start another project to expand its tank farm," Rollins said in an online seminar introducing the New York Mercantile Exchange's new sour crude futures contract, which uses LOOP as its delivery point.
LOOP is the largest private storage facility in the U.S. with 53 million barrels of underground storage through eight caverns. It also has an above-ground tank farm that can hold 7.2 million barrels. Rollins said LOOP is considering the construction of further tanks.
"We have been talking to people over the past couple of months to see if there is additional interest for people needing their own tankage," Barb Hestermann, business development representative for LOOP, told Dow Jones Newswires.
CME Group Inc. (CME), which owns Nymex, launched a sour crude futures contract on Dec. 7, initially aimed at capturing the needs of Saudi Arabia's customers. The kingdom in October decided to switch to pricing oil sold in the U.S. off of a sour crude benchmark, rather than an assessment of the Nymex's light, sweet futures contract. Sour is an oil industry term used to denote lower-quality crude.
Hestermann said LOOP had been contemplating new storage prior to the introduction of the new sour futures contract, with fresh interest generated by the launch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

China's winter weather triggers natural gas shortages

BEIJING - The municipal government of Hangzhou, in East China's Zhejiang province, stopped all natural gas supplies to entertainment businesses one recent weekend to guarantee supplies to the city's 410,000 households.
The city government also reduced gas supplies to hotels, office buildings and shopping malls by 20 percent.
Chinese cities have been grappling for several weeks with shortages of natural gas triggered by the unusually early winter weather.
Transportation authorities in the southwestern China city of Chongqing said that 6,200 of the city's 7,000 buses are powered by natural gas, and that services were pared back as supplies slowed. The municipal government on Nov. 23 also allowed natural gas-fueled taxis to levy a two-yuan surcharge per trip to offset their losses.
In Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, the city's biggest natural gas consumer - Intex Glass (Wuhan) Co. Ltd. - is on the verge of bankruptcy because of the gas shortage. The company has more than 100 employees on its payroll.
"Our factory stopped production for more than a week. The company has ordered diesel as a substitute for natural gas to fuel the smelter to prevent our materials from degenerating," said Ao Wanzhi, manager of the company.
The company's daily gas consumption was about 145,000 cubic meters, which accounted for one-tenth of the city's total. The company's monthly production value was estimated at 50 million yuan.
The city government started to cut natural gas supplies to industrial users on Nov. 17 in an effort to ensure residential supplies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Canadian Joint Review Panel Agreement issued for Northern Gateway Pipeline

OTTAWA - The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the National Energy Board on Dec. 4 issued the Joint Review Panel Agreement, including the Terms of Reference, for the environmental and regulatory review of the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project proposed by Enbridge.
The joint review panel process will provide an opportunity for all hearing participants to make their views known on the project in an open forum. Public and Aboriginal groups are encouraged to bring their views on the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project forward to the Joint Review Panel once the Panel is established.
The Agreement was issued for public comment before being finalized. The Agreement describes the Panel's terms of reference as well as the process to be followed for conducting the joint panel review.
The Panel has a broad mandate under both the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to consider whether the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and if it is in the public interest.
After conclusion of the review process, the Panel will prepare a Panel Report setting out its conclusions and recommendations relating to the environmental assessment of the project.
Following the government response on the Panel Report, the Panel will then issue its reasons for decision under the National Energy Board Act.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Koch’s MPC line spills 210,000 gallons of crude oil in central Minnesota

STAPLES, Minn. - Crews in central Minnesota are cleaning up 210,000 gallons of crude oil after a pipeline leak during the night of Dec. 3-4.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) estimates 210,000 gallons (5,000 bbls.) of crude oil leaked out near Philbrook.
Minnesota Pipeline Co. (MPC) owns the pipeline and Koch Pipeline Co. operates the line. Koch Pipeline is a division of Flint Hills, which in turn is owned by privately held Koch Industries.
Representatives from the Koch Oil Co., Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety (MOPS) were on-site to oversee cleanup of the spill.
According to MOPS, pipeline workers on Dec. 3 had been repairing sections of the 16-inch pipe in a rural area of Todd County two miles south of Staples, near Philbrook, Minn. They left on the afternoon of Dec. 3, and the spill occurred during the evening hours of Dec. 3-4.
MPCA Information Officer Steve Mikkelson noted that equipment installed to stop the flow of oil and allow work on the pipeline actually caused the leak, and that the trench dug to repair the pipeline also helped contain the spill.
"The size of the oil spill is quite significant," Mikkelson said. "But in this particular case it was a real fortunate situation because due to the maintenance work they had excavated a large trench and the oil basically filled it up."
According to Mikkelson, the oil-filled trench measures 20 feet wide by 150 feet long and 12 feet deep, and was overflowing into a wooded area when the pipeline's maintenance crew reached the site at 6 a.m. on Dec. 4
Mikkelson also said no area surface area waters had been contaminated and only one home had to be evacuated due to the spill.
The pipeline in question runs from the Clearbrook Pumping Station to the
Flint Hills Refinery near Inver Grove Heights.
Representatives of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety were on the scene to investigate the
cause of the leak.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holly Partners announces acquisition of Roadrunner & Beeson Pipelines

DALLAS, Texas - Holly Energy Partners, L.P. and Holly Corp. on Dec. 1 announced the acquisition by Holly Partners from Holly Corp. of the Roadrunner Pipeline, a newly constructed 65-mile, 16-inch pipeline connecting Holly's refining facilities in Lovington, N.M., to the terminus of a Centurion pipeline extending between West Texas and Cushing, Okla. This connection provides Holly's refining facilities in New Mexico with direct access to a wide variety of crude oils available at Cushing.
Also included in the acquisition is a newly constructed 35-mile, eight-inch pipeline that connects Holly Energy's New Mexico crude oil gathering system to Holly's Lovington, N.M. refining facility. This pipeline provides added flexibility for Holly Corp. to move crude oil from Holly Partners' gathering system to its Lovington, N.M., facilities as well as its Artesia, N.M., facility for processing.
The purchase price for these newly constructed pipelines was $46.5 million, which was paid in cash.
Holly Partners expects the pipeline acquisitions to result in approximately $9.2 million of incremental annual revenue.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Georgia speaker resigns amid allegations of affair with pipeline lobbyist

ATLANTA - Glenn Richardson, Georgia’s first GOP speaker of the House since Reconstruction, resigned on Dec. 3 after a suicide attempt and amid allegations by his ex-wife that he had an affair with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist. The affair occurred while the Georgia House was considering legislation that allowed AGL to build a $300 million pipeline. Richardson co-sponsored the legislation, which ultimately died without being passed.
Richardson revealed in November that he had attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills while depressed following the divorce. But his ex-wife in November went on local TV and accused him of having "a full-out affair" with the lobbyist while they were still married, and claimed that the suicide attempt was nothing more than an attempt to gain attention and engender sympathy.
Richardson did not address those allegations in a brief statement issued through the House communications office in which he said he will leave both his position as speaker and his House seat on Jan. 1. He did mention in the statement that he had grappled with depression resulting in his suicide attempt.
"I fear that the media attention of this week has deflected this message and done harm to many people who suffer from this condition," he said of his depression in the statement.
The 49-year-old Richardson, from Hiram, Ga., once thought to be a serious contender for governor, had gone back to shaking hands at chicken-and-grits fundraisers after trying to kill himself. But he had been silent since his ex-wife claimed on local television that he slept with the 34-year-old AGL lobbyist.
Sheriff's deputies found him on Nov. 8, slumped semiconscious on the edge of the bathtub at his west Georgia home after he called his mother to say he had swallowed pills. A suicide note and a silver .357 Magnum were on the counter next to him. The contents of the note have not been released. Richardson also called his ex-wife, who he now accuses of failing to report to 911 his phone call to her during the attempted suicide.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Report says pipelines in Canada’s permafrost at risk from global warming

OTTAWA - Roads, pipelines, buildings and other infrastructure in the Canadian North are not prepared for the stresses of climate change, a report released on Nov. 26 says.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy study of how the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut would fare in a rapidly warming world, paints a stark picture of the challenges facing the Arctic.
"Energy pipelines built over permafrost terrain could be at risk of rupture and leakage if design and maintenance protocols do not account for the potential for permafrost thawing," the report said.
The changes in permafrost, which include sudden shifts in the ground, will make pipeline construction more complicated.
This could have implications for the planned C$16.2 billion, 760 mile Mackenzie Valley pipeline to ship gas from the Arctic to the western province of Alberta.
The main partners in the project include Imperial Oil Ltd, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.
The report goes on to say northern communities, which are often connected to the rest of Canada by a single road or airport, face skyrocketing costs, because as the ground thaws, there will be a "gradual loss of structural integrity" to infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

U.S. court allows global warming suit against energy companies to proceed

Residents and owners of land along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were allowed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to bring a class action suit against energy, fossil fuels, and chemical companies for their alleged contributions to global warming, reversing a decision by a lower court.
The suit alleged that the companies created a public nuisance by emitting greenhouse gases, which contributed to global warming and allegedly made Hurricane Katrina more damaging than it would have been otherwise, destroying their private property in addition to causing damage to public property.
The landowners also filed trespass claims asserting that the companies’ greenhouse gas emissions caused saltwater, debris, and various hazardous substances to enter and damage their property.
Finally, negligence claims asserted that the defendants had a duty to conduct their businesses in a way to avoid unreasonably damaging the environment, public health, public and private property, and that the defendants breached this duty.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

MichCon Pipeline Co. sells natural gas gathering and treating assets

DETROIT - MichCon Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of DTE Energy, on Nov. 24 announced it has completed its sale of natural gas gathering and treating assets to DCP Midstream Partners LP.
The assets are in northern Michigan and provide gas gathering and treating services for gas produced in the Antrim shale formation. The sale price was $45.1 million cash.
"Given the sale of DTE Energy's exploration and production assets in the Antrim in 2007 and that we purchase very little Antrim production, these assets were deemed non-strategic," said Mark Stiers, MichCon vice president, Gas Sales & Supply. "However we will retain and continue to operate larger gathering pipelines in the Antrim that are strategic when examining future storage development in Northern Michigan."
MichCon Pipeline Co. is a subsidiary of DTE Energy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Natural-gas storage facility to be built in Louisiana

HOUMA, La. - BCR Holdings, owned by a New-York based investment firm, is working to build a new $230 million natural-gas storage facility in Lafourche Parish.
BCR is developing a natural salt cavern just south of Larose to store the gas.
The facility, called Bully Camp Gas Storage, would provide a “first stop” for storage in what is already a hub for pipeline activity, said Tom Cook, executive vice president of development for the project.
“The producers of deepwater gas that comes in (only) have access to storage farther north,” Cook said.
Currently, the company is hosting an open season, or comment period, through Dec. 18 to gauge interest in natural-gas storage from local pipeline companies, Cook said.
BCR Holdings intends to file paperwork for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by December, and state and local permitting would follow.
The facility would consist of a plant on 11.5 acres next to the Williams Discovery Gas & Pipeline processing plant in Larose, which filters and processes natural gas before sending it out into nearby pipelines. The potential storage site itself sits about 5.5 miles south of there on 1,700 acres of marshland property.
The two salt dome caverns will store about 15 billion cubic feet of gas, enough to power 220,000 homes for a year.
Construction is planned to start in about a year, and the facility would be operational by the end of 2013.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Williams completes Transco expansion in Northeast

TULSA, Okla. - Williams Cos. said on Nov. 19 that it has placed into service an expansion of its Transco natural gas pipeline, increasing firm transportation capacity into the Northeast United States by 102,000 dekatherms per day.
The expansion increases the total system capacity on the 10,500-mile Transco system to approximately 8.6 billion cubic feet per day, the company said in a statement.
The Sentinel expansion project was completed in two phases, the second of which was just placed into service. The first phase, which increased capacity by 40,000 dekatherms per day, was placed into service in December 2008.
Phase II construction included the addition or replacement of 14 miles of pipe and eight meter station modifications at various locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Williams seeks FERC approval for expanded Southeast Gas Service

TULSA, Okla. - Williams said on Nov. 18 that it has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand its Transco natural gas pipeline to serve markets in the southeastern United States.
The company said that new service from the Mobile Bay South II Expansion project would be available in the spring of 2011, subject to FERC approval.
The project is designed to create an additional 380,000 dekatherms of southbound, year-round firm transportation capacity on the Mobile Bay Lateral from Transco’s mainline at Station 85 near Butler, Ala., to its interconnect with Gulfstream Natural Gas System in Coden, Ala.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Former Willbros consultant admits bribery plot

HOUSTON - A former Willbros International consultant pleaded guilty on Nov. 12 to two federal charges in the payment of more than $6 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in exchange for pipeline contracts.
Paul G. Novak, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one count of violating the act, which prohibits bribing officials for business overseas.
Novak was charged along with James Kenneth Tillery, a former executive of Willbros International, who is a fugitive. Two other Willbros employees, Jim Bob Brown and Jason Steph, have pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme but have not yet been sentenced.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bush appointee resigns as U.S. coordinator for Alaska gas pipeline project

ANCHORAGE - Republican Drue Pearce, the federal official responsible for coordinating planning for the proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline, has resigned her position at the request of the Obama administration.
Pearce, a former Alaska state Senate president who has held the position since it was created by then President George W. Bush in 2006, said she will step down effective Jan. 3.
The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation is reviewing competing plans offered by both TransCanada Corp. and a joint venture formed by BP and ConocoPhillips to build a pipeline to ship natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to domestic U.S. markets.
Pearce was the first person to hold the job, which is designed to keep federal agencies working together to get the pipeline built without undue delay. Some 22 federal agencies in the United States - plus others in Canada Thomas Barrett- must sign off on an environmental impact statement before the project can move forward.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said she was pleased that Pearce's deputy, retired U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thomas Barrett, will serve as the interim coordinator until the White House appoints someone new.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Copano to build Eagle Ford gas pipeline

HOUSTON - Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Copano Energy plan to form a joint venture to build a 22-mile natural-gas pipeline in the south Texas Eagle Ford Shale, the companies said on Nov. 13.
The project is expected to cost about $30 million, Kinder Morgan spokesman Joe Hollier said.
The 24-inch pipeline will have an initial capacity of 350 million cubic feet of gas a day, and will extend from LaSalle County to Duval County, Texas.
Kinder Morgan and Copano expect to complete the project in mid- 2010.
Kinder Morgan and Copano will provide gas gathering, transportation and processing services to Eagle Ford Shale producers through the 50-50 joint venture.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BP faces suit claiming Ocensa pipeline damaged Colombian farmland

LONDON - Ninety-five Colombian farmers are suing BP in the high court in London for allegedly causing serious damage to their land, crops and animals.
In the first case of its kind, the farmers are claiming that BP Exploration Co. Ltd., which joined forces with Colombia's national oil company and four foreign multinational corporations in a consortium to construct the 450-mile Ocensa pipeline, caused landslides and damage to soil and groundwater, causing crops to fail, livestock to perish, contaminating water supplies and making fish ponds unsustainable.
The farmers are claiming damages against BP for breach of contract and negligence.
If the court accepts the evidence, it could open the way for similar claims by other communities in developing countries who say they have been adversely affected by oil pipelines.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Final leg of Rockies Express natural gas pipeline placed in service

NEW YORK - Construction of the final 195 miles of the eastern portion of the Rockies Express natural gas pipeline was complete and service began on Nov. 12 into eastern Ohio, pipeline partner Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP said.
Kinder Morgan owns 50 percent of the 1,679-mile line that stretches from northwestern Colorado to eastern Ohio. The entire REX pipeline, capable of delivering 1.8 billion cubic feet per day of gas, is now operational, the company said in a news release.
The final leg stretches from the Lebanon Hub in Warren County, Ohio, to Clarington, in Monroe County, Ohio.
Long-term, binding commitments had been secured for virtually all of the pipeline's capacity, the company said.
REX, one of the largest natural gas pipelines constructed in North America, is operated by Kinder Morgan. Sempra unit Sempra Pipelines and Storage and ConocoPhillips each own a 25 percent stake in REX.

Friday, November 13, 2009

6°C rise in temperature predicted by 2030: irreparable harm to planet

According to the International Energy Agency, the recovery from the current recession could spark a massive energy crisis with increased demand for fossil fuels from China and other developing countries, tighter oil supplies and skyrocketing oil prices.
The longer-term picture looks even more challenging. If the world continues to guzzle oil and gas at its present pace, global temperatures will rise by an average of 6°C by 2030, causing "irreparable damage to the planet."
The agency's annual World Economic Outlook report was released on Nov. 10.
The warning from the IEA, an intergovernmental energy watchdog based in Paris, could add extra weight to the negotiations leading up to the climate-change summit in Copenhagen next month, when leaders will attempt to come to an agreement on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol's limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.
The IEA report says the world faces a looming disaster if its leaders drag their feet in Copenhagen. Among the predictions likely to alarm the big energy consumers:
• Unless there is an "energy revolution," the planet will heat up by about 6°C by 2030 - about three times the rate of global warming that is considered manageable by most scientists. That, says the normally sober IEA, "would lead almost certainly to massive climatic change and irreparable damage to the planet."
• The global recession has brought the first significant yearly drop in energy demand since 1981, giving the planet a rare breather from carbon emissions. But this is a "unique" moment, the report says, whose gains will be quickly obliterated without a significant move toward alternative energies. The impending energy crisis is "far greater than many people realize," it says.
• Energy demand will rebound sharply once the recession ends and rise about 40 percent by 2030. Fossil fuels - oil, coal and gas - will make up about three-quarters of the global increase in energy consumption.
• Coal usage will grow annually about 2.5 percent from now to 2030, which could lead to massive increases in air pollution.
• Without the energy revolution that the IEA says is necessary, oil prices will rise by 2020 to about $100 a bbl. in pre-2008 dollar values and by 2030 to about $115 a bbl.
To avoid all this, the IEA says the world needs to spend about $10.5 trillion in extra money from 2010 to 2030 to foster new low-carbon energy sources.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

South Dakota landowners along Keystone XL want bonds as protection

PIERRE - Some landowners want the state Public Utilities Commission to require TransCanada to post additional bonds for the company’s proposed XL oil pipeline in western South Dakota.
The bonds would serve as financial protection against damages from oil spills and for removal of the XL pipeline if the company abandons it in the future.
Paul Seamans of rural Draper and David Niemi of rural Buffalo were among those who called for the bonding during a public-input meeting Nov. 3 held by the PUC as part of a permit hearing.
Seamans, Niemi and others also called for limits on the time which TransCanada can hold the easement.
State law doesn’t require spill and abandonment bonds for pipelines. But bonds are required for surface mines in South Dakota.
The PUC is considering a $15.6 million road-damage bond as a permit condition for the XL project. TransCanada posted a $12 million bond for roads, as a condition of the PUC permit for its Keystone pipeline being built down the James River Valley.
PUC lawyer Kara Semmler said counties and TransCanada have been working out road issues associated with the Keystone construction. She said there have been no claims so far against the $12 million. “It is intact,” she said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hurricane update: Ida dissipates, energy production in GoMex returns to normal

Hurricane Ida, its winds deteriorated to 40 mph as it came ashore near Mobile, Ala., on the morning of Nov. 10, was downgraded to Tropical Depression Ida.
The National Hurricane Center further reduced it to “extratropical” status as its remnants crossed Florida, Alabama and Georgia later on Nov. 10.
The storm prompted U.S. energy companies to close down 43.1 percent of oil output and 28.0 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Employees from eight drilling rigs and 126 production platforms were evacuated as the storm passes through the area, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said.
Energy sources predicted that oil industry operations that had been shut down ahead of the storm would return to normal by the end of Nov. 10 or early
On Nov. 11.
The Gulf is the source of 25 percent of U.S. domestically produced oil and 15 percent of natural gas. About 40 percent of U.S. refining capacity is located on the Gulf Coast.
Oil refineries will not likely need to request crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as they prepare for the potential effects of Tropical Storm Ida on the country's stockpile, the Energy Department said. Refineries were "holding above average stock levels, and refinery utilization is average or less than average," the agency said. The department is capable of supplying crude but said it thinks that it will not be necessary.
Chevron Corp. said on Nov. 10 that it was assessing facilities in the Gulf of Mexico affected by Tropical Storm Ida and returning workers to offshore platforms. The company will continue "safe remobilization efforts throughout the week," Chevron said in a news release.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NTSB report on fatal Dixie Pipeline rupture in 2007 now online

The final report of the National TransportationSafety Board on the Dixie Pipeline rupture and fire in Mississippi in 2007 is now available online at and
Following is the executive summary of the report:
“On November 1, 2007, at 10:35:02 a.m. central daylight time, a 12-inch-diameter pipeline segment operated by Dixie Pipeline Company was transporting liquid propane at about 1,405 pounds per square inch, gauge, when it ruptured in a rural area near Carmichael, Mississippi. The resulting gas cloud expanded over nearby homes and ignited, creating a large fireball that was heard and seen from miles away. About 10,253 barrels (430,626 gallons) of propane were released. “As a result of the ensuing fire, two people were killed and seven people sustained minor injuries. Four houses were destroyed, and several others were damaged. About 71.4 acres of grassland and woodland were burned. Dixie Pipeline Company reported that property damages resulting from the accident, including the loss of product, were $3,377,247.
“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 1, 2007, rupture of the liquid propane pipeline operated by Dixie Pipeline Company near Carmichael, Mississippi, was the failure of a weld that caused the pipe to fracture along the longitudinal seam weld, a portion of the upstream girth weld, and portions of the adjacent pipe joints.
"The following safety issues were identified as a result of the investigation of this accident:
• The failure mechanisms and safety of low-frequency electric resistance welded pipe,
• The adequacy of Dixie Pipeline Company’s public education program,
• The adequacy of federal pipeline safety regulations and oversight exercised by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of pipeline operators’ public education and emergency responder outreach programs, and
• Emergency communications in Clarke County, Mississippi.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gas pipeline explosion in Texas injures three, melts window blinds

AMARILLO, Texas - A natural gas pipeline explosion shook the town of Bushland on Nov. 5. The ensuing fire was so intense that it launched flames hundreds of feet into the sky and melted the window blinds of nearby homes.
One nearby home was completely destroyed, while surrounding houses sustained damages.
A total of 60 people were evacuated to Bushland Middle School.
Witnesses reported seeing flames from their homes that reached hundreds of feet into the air. Even people as far as 20 miles away reported witnessing the fire from their homes.
Three people were injured in the blast, according to officials. The victims reportedly sustained burns and were transported to the Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo for treatment by doctors and nurses. Police officials have not released the identities of the victims. It has not been determined what caused the explosion.
El Paso Natural Gas and Atmos Energy crews are conducting an investigation.

Friday, November 6, 2009

MasTec to acquire Precision Pipeline, LLC

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - MasTec, Inc. on Nov. 3 announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Precision Pipeline, LLC, a leading natural gas, crude oil and refined products transmission pipeline infrastructure services provider in North America for a purchase consideration of $150 million.
The transaction is contingent on financing availability on terms and conditions acceptable to MasTec, in its sole discretion, and there is no break-up fee if such financing is not available.
Based in Eau Claire, Wis., Precision specializes in the construction and maintenance of large-diameter pipelines. Precision's experience in the long-haul, interstate pipeline industry will complement MasTec's existing energy infrastructure service offerings, which include natural gas gathering systems, processing plants and compression stations and mid-stream pipelines.
Precision employs a team of skilled unionized workers and tradesmen which it deploys throughout North America and utilizes a significant pool of specialized
pipeline construction equipment.
With the acquisition of Precision, MasTec will become one of the leading pipeline contractors in the country, capable of providing a full array of construction services to oil and gas producers, as well as mid-stream and interstate pipeline operators.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ultra Resources proposes condensate pipeline in Wyoming

GREEN RIVER, Wyo. - A Houston-based energy company is proposing to construct a 42-mile pipeline to move condensate out of the Pinedale Anticline natural-gas field to a terminal located south of LaBarge, according to Bureau of Land Management officials.
The move is expected to reduce truck traffic in the lucrative Sublette County gas field, which should help reduce potentially dangerous ozone-causing air pollutants and reduce effects on wildlife.
BLM spokeswoman Lorraine Keith said Ultra Resources Inc. proposed building the 6-inch pipeline to fulfill a requirement in the agency's supplemental environmental impact statement record of decision.
The document mandated that field operators install a liquids-gathering system to reduce truck traffic associated with production in the Anticline within two years.
State and federal officials have been working with oil and gas operators in recent years to take steps to reduce pollution from field equipment, condensers and other facilities in an effort to reduce ground-level ozone concentrations in the region.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DOT proposes $466,200 fine for Enterprise in Kansas pipeline failure

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation on Oct. 28 proposed to fine Enterprise Products Operating, LLC $466,200 for alleged violations of federal pipeline safety regulations. The proposed fine follows the
Department's investigation into the Enterprise Products Partners September
2007 failure near Englewood, Kansas.
"Today's action reinforces a message the Department has communicated for years to owners and operators of pipeline systems and other freight and commodity transporters - Safety First," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The proposed fine and finding of probable violation are the result of an accident investigation recently completed by the Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). During the investigation, PHMSA investigators discovered possible failures by Enterprise to ensure pipeline workers were adequately trained to perform necessary system repairs as required by federal operator qualification regulations. Proper implementation of operator qualification programs by pipeline companies is vital to preventing system failures, injury to people, property damage, and other serious consequences. Other probable violations include failures to conduct required drug testing of maintenance personnel following the accident.
On Sept. 11, 2007, PHMSA inspectors responded to an Enterprise Products pipeline rupture and release of approximately 14,700 barrels of natural gas liquid. Post-accident failure analysis determined the failure was due to the improper installation of pipeline system components following recently conducted maintenance activities.
Although the release did not result in any deaths or injuries to the public, the event closed State Highway 283 for five days, seriously affecting daily commuters as crews worked to secure and clean-up spilled product.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fatality count rises to 10 in India Oil terminal fire

JAIPUR - The massive fire at an oil depot in western India has left 10 people dead, an official said on Nov. 1, as the blaze raged on after more than 48 hours.
The fire, caused by a suspected oil pipeline leak, broke out on the night of Oct. 29 at the Indian Oil Corp (IOC) compound on the outskirts of Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan.
B.L. Soni, a senior Jaipur police official, told the AFP news agency that two bodies had been spotted near the facility but that rescuers could not retrieve them because the temperature from the fire was too high.
He said authorities believe the bodies belong to two IOC employees who have been missing since the inferno began.
Eight other people died in the blaze, including three employees. Their bodies were recovered at the scene, officials said.
The number of injured stood at 135.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Duncan, Enterprise Partners expanding Louisiana intrastate system

HOUSTON - Enterprise Products Partners and Duncan Energy Partners have announced plans to expand their Louisiana intrastate natural gas pipeline system.
The system, operated by Acadian Gas LLC, a joint venture of the Partners, is being extended into northwest Louisiana to bring gas from Haynesville Shale deposits to regional customers.
The Haynesville Extension will have a design capacity to deliver 1.4 billion cubic feet per day through a 249-mile pipeline connecting existing infrastructure to the affiliated Cypress gas pipeline. The expansion will provide producers in the Haynesville shale access to nine interstate pipelines - Florida Gas, Texas Eastern, Transco, Sonat, Columbia Gulf, Trunkline, ANR, Tennessee Gas.
Enterprise says the extension provides natural gas shippers advantages in terms of price while diversifying the gas sector in the south Louisiana market. For producers, the company said, the extension offers more options for transactions with their end users.
"The expansion of the Acadian system provides our partnership with another major foothold in a significant non-conventional natural gas producing area," said Michael A. Creel, president and chief executive officer of Enterprise.
The service date for the expansion is September 2011.
The Haynesville Extension will be able to transport 1.4 bcfd through 249 miles of 36-in. and 30-in. OD pipeline connecting to both Acadian’s system and its affiliated Cypress Gas Pipeline.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Four dead, 135 injured in oil depot blaze in India

JAIPUR, India - A massive fire raged on Oct. 30 at an oil depot in northern India more than 18 hours after it erupted, with four people confirmed dead and around 135 injured.
The blaze, caused by a suspected oil pipeline leak, broke out at around 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) facility on the outskirts of Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan.
B.L. Soni, a senior Jaipur police official, confirmed four deaths and 135 injured. "Two of them are critical," he said.
Between three and six employees of the state-run facility were missing, according to the police and the Indian oil ministry.
IOC officials estimated the cost of the fire at up to 1.5 billion rupees ($30 million).
The Press Trust of India reported six people were killed and 150 injured in the fire, which engulfed five oil storage units at the depot covering an area of several square kilometers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Port Dolphin gets license OK for Florida deepwater LNG facility

MANATEE, Fla. - Port Dolphin’s proposal to build a deepwater port off Anna Maria Island inched closer to licensing on Oct. 26.
That’s when a record of decision was signed for Port Dolphin Energy LLC’s application for a license to build a deepwater liquefied natural gas port about 28 miles off Anna Maria Island.
The regulatory requirement awarded to Port Dolphin’s proposal clears the company to receive a project license from the U.S. Maritime Administration.
“We are pleased at the progress we have made in meeting the regulatory requirements for our new deepwater (liquefied natural gas) port,” said Sveinung Stohle, president and chief executive officer of Hoegh LNG, Port Dolphin’s parent company.
“The port will be an important new source of much-needed natural gas for the state of Florida.”
The offshore deepwater port will be a platform where ships can unload liquefied natural gas that will be shipped through a pipeline that comes ashore at Port Manatee.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saudi Arabia: Construction of Karan gas project now under way

The first phase of construction of Saudi Aramco’s Karan gas program is now under way on the four main contract packages that were awarded in March.
The chief contractors involved in the program are J. Ray McDermott, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co., Petrofac, and GS Engineering.
Last month, the team responsible for the offshore platforms and subsea pipeline package started fabrication of 30,000 metric tons (33,069 tons) of steel for 38 structures. Work on the three onshore packages, the Karan gas facilities, pipeline utilities and co-generation, and the Karan Sulfur recovery and Manifa gas facilities is also under way at Khursaniyah.
Karan is the company’s first non-associated offshore gas field development. Offshore facilities will comprise four production platforms connected to a main tie-in platform that will feed sour gas through a 68.3-mile subsea pipeline to the processing complex in Khursaniyah.
On arrival, the gas will be processed through three trains, each with a capacity of 600 MMcf/d, with facilities for gas sweetening, acid-gas enrichment, dehydration and propane refrigeration.
Saudi Aramco aims to produce 450 MMcf/d by mid-2011.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Retired NTSB investigator Charles H. Batten dead at 72

Charles Hershel Batten, 72, died at his residence in the Lake of the Woods community, Locust Grove, Va., on Oct. 24, 2009.
Mr. Batten was born in Douglas, Ga., in 1937. He was a graduate of Georgia Tech with a B.S. in civil engineering, and a graduate of the University of Southern California with a Master of Science degree in safety systems.
Mr. Batten served in the United States Army Reserve as a sergeant first class. He retired from the Florida Public Service Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board and Batten Associates.
Mr. Batten is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joan Allen Batten; two sons, Brad Batten of Warrenton, Va., and Chuck Batten of Slidell, La.; a daughter, Jennifer Nagy of La Crosse, Wis.; and a brother, Jimmy Batten of Winter Garden, Fla.
A memorial service for Mr. Batten will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at The Lake of the Woods Church. The Rev. Tom Schafer will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of the Rapidan, Box 1715, Culpeper, Va. 22701, or The Lake of the Woods Church, One Church Lane, Locust Grove, Va. 22508.
Online condolences may be made to Johnsoncares .com.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Enterprise and TEPPCO complete merger, announce changes

HOUSTON - Enterprise Products Partners L.P. and TEPPCO Partners, L.P. on Oct. 26 announced that the merger of the two partnerships has been completed. The merger agreement was approved by TEPPCO unitholders at a special meeting held Oct. 23 in Houston.
With an enterprise value of approximately $30 billion, 48,000 miles of pipelines and market capitalization of $18 billion, Enterprise is now the nation`s largest publicly traded partnership.
Some 97 percent of the TEPPCO units that voted were cast in favor of the merger and represented about 71 percent of TEPPCO`s total outstanding units. In addition, approximately 96 percent of the votes cast by Unaffiliated TEPPCO Unitholders approved the merger of the two partnerships.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, TEPPCO unitholders will receive 1.24 Enterprise common units for each TEPPCO unit owned at the effective time of the merger, which is expected to be completed Oct. 26, 2009.
As previously announced, Enterprise is offering to exchange TEPPCO senior and subordinated notes validly tendered for exchange, and not validly withdrawn, prior to their expiration date, for Enterprise notes. The exchange is scheduled to be completed at the close of business on Oct. 27. As of Oct. 23, $1.94 billion of the $2 billion aggregate principal amount of TEPPCO notes had been tendered for exchange.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fourth lawsuit filed against NorthWestern Energy over Montana gas explosion

BOZEMAN, Mont. - A fourth lawsuit has been filed against NorthWestern Energy, claiming the utility company is to blame for the March 5 explosion in downtown Bozeman that claimed one life and destroyed half a city block.
In his complaint, Rocky Mountain Rug Gallery owner Jalal Neishabouri accuses NorthWestern Energy and its gas system integrity manager Leonard Leveaux of negligence. The lawsuit is similar to others already filed in Gallatin County District Court.
Neishabouri moved to Bozeman in 1991 and has operated the Rocky Mountain Rug Gallery since that time, according to the lawsuit. Court papers state his inventory included 5,000 "high quality carpets, new antique and historical, many of which were damaged by smoke, water, glass or the foreseeable mishandling during efforts to rescue some of the carpets following the explosion and fire which is the subject of the suit."
The lawsuit claims the two-inch service line behind the Rocky Mountain Trails art gallery had become brittle and cracked, causing a large gas leak and subsequent explosion and that NorthWestern officials chose to ignore the dangerous conditions created by weakened thread joints in the pipe.
"The dangerous, brittle condition of the service line made it susceptible to fracture from common natural forces. Those forces and the susceptibility of embrittled pipe to fracture when exposed to those forces are well known and well understood in the gas distribution industry. The threaded connections between segments of pipeline are weak points which are prone to the initiation of cracks and failures," the lawsuit states.
Neishabouri's suit also says NorthWestern's inability to locate and shut off its own valves after the blast was a result of the company's negligent and reckless conduct.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More on New York MTBE case: ExxonMobil ordered to pay $105 million

NEW YORK - A federal jury in Manhattan, after an 11-week trial, has found ExxonMobil liable for contaminating New York City's groundwater with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), and awarded the City of New York $105 million in damages.
The city sued ExxonMobil for the costs of removing MTBE from drinking water wells in southeast Queens. The jury found Exxon liable for product liability for failure to warn people about the dangerous nature of its product as well as trespass, public nuisance, and negligence.
The city presented evidence that ExxonMobil added MTBE to gasoline knowing that it would contaminate groundwater when the gasoline leaked and knowing that underground storage tanks at gas stations, many of which are owned by ExxonMobil, regularly leak.
The City also contended that ExxonMobil ignored warnings from its own scientists and engineers not to use MTBE in areas of the country, like Queens, that use groundwater for drinking water.
ExxonMobil failed to inform government agencies, gasoline station owners, water suppliers, and the public about the dangers from MTBE.
New York State banned MTBE in 2004, after the chemical had polluted groundwater drinking water supplies throughout the state. Some 20 other states have also banned MTBE.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GMX selling stake in gas gathering operations to Kinder Morgan

HOUSTON - GMX Resources Inc has agreed to sell a 40 percent stake in its gas gathering and compression business to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP for $36 million. The money will be used by GMXR to expand its drilling program in Texas and Louisiana.
GMX’s salt water disposal assets and other poly pipelines will not be part of the deal and will continue to be wholly owned by GMX's unit, Endeavor Pipeline Inc, the company said
Endeavor will also continue to act as the operator of the gas gathering system. The deal is expected to close in early November, GMXR said.
"The Kinder Morgan transaction provides the financial capacity for GMXR to add a second rig to the Haynesville/Bossier horizontal drilling program," GMX's Chief Executive Ken Kenworthy said.
The Bossier and Haynesville shales contain large quantities of gas and are both located in east Texas and northern Louisiana.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kinder Morgan begins moving biodiesel on Oregon pipeline

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP in September began moving B2 through its 115-mile Oregon Pipeline that runs from Portland to Eugene. The move came following successful test runs. ‘
Kinder Morgan’s Oregon line is one of only a few pipelines in the U.S. able to regularly transport blended biodiesel, according to the company, because it does not transport jet fuel, eliminating the potential for intermixing of product into jet fuel batches.
“This new biodiesel shipment capability will help diesel fuel suppliers throughout Oregon meet a state biodiesel mandate that goes into effect on Oct. 1,” said Tom Bannigan, KMP Products Pipeline president. “We are transporting B2 in a way that’s operationally efficient, quality controlled and cost effective.”
The first commercial batch of approximately 100,000 barrels of B2 was created using a new blending system to inject B99 into ultra-low sulfur diesel at the company’s Willbridge terminal in Portland. Other area terminals also are expected to deliver B2 to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Monday, October 19, 2009

NTSB issues findings on fatal 2007 Dixie Pipeline rupture in Mississippi

CARMICHAEL, Miss. - The National Transportation Safety Board on Oct. 15 issued its final findings on a 2007 rupture on the Dixie liquid propane gas (LPG).
In its report, the NTSB took direct aim at Dixie Pipeline. It stated, among other things, that better pipeline testing might have prevented the explosion. It also found that the company had not included the Carmichael community in its safety education program.
For many residents of Clarke County, Miss., the wounds from the 2007 pipeline explosion remain fresh. The trees are still charred. The ruins of two mobile homes are still where they almost melted when the LPG line ruptured and exploded near the Carmichael community in southeastern Clarke County. Pieces of the charred mobile homes still sit exactly where they fell on Nov. 1, 2007, when the compromised pipeline spilled propane gas down in a hollow.
"It was just a normal day in Clarke County until the explosion happened and then it was total chaos," said Sheriff Todd Kemp.
"This line travels a long distance, but for it to happen right here in this little community here, it was tragedy," said District 5 county supervisor Tony Fleming. "You come down here hoping no one got hurt. We find out we lost some lives, people that we knew."
The cost to the Dixie Pipeline Company was over $3.5 million. The cost to the Carmichael community was two lives, five homes, and a feeling of unease. The blast killed Maddie and Naquandra Mitchell, and forced many of their family members to find alternative living arrangements.
At least one group has filed a class action lawsuit against the pipeline company.

Friday, October 16, 2009

TransCanada Keystone linefill to begin in November

CALGARY, Alta. - TransCanada's Keystone pipeline will take nine million barrels of oil to fill. The linefill will take that oil off the market, and could create a short-term squeeze that boosts heavy oil prices
It will take about three months to fill the Keystone line with oil, long before any of it is refined into finished products.
That process could add enough demand to briefly strengthen prices for heavy oil, the thicker crude produced in and around the Alberta oil sands by companies like Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Baytex Energy Trust, Nexen Inc., Husky Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd.
The pipeline, the largest to enter North American service in years, will take about six per cent of Canada's heavy oil production in that time.
“The removal of that much heavy oil in one shot” means that “heavy oil differentials will likely tighten,” said Jared Layton, a crude oil specialist with Phoenix Energy Marketing Consultants Inc.
Heavy oil is a thicker form of crude that must undergo more refining steps than light oil before it can be separated into end products like gasoline and jet fuel. As a result, it generally sells at a discount known as the “light-heavy differential.”
The light-heavy differential has dropped from an average of 22 per cent last year to as low as 10 per cent this year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dominion moves ahead with $600 million gas pipeline

RICHMOND, Va. - Dominion Resources is moving ahead with a proposed $600 million project to pipe natural gas from fields in West Virginia to southwest Pennsylvania.
Richmond-based Dominion plans to complete the project, which includes building 110 miles of pipeline and four compressor stations, by 2012.
Dominion says the pipeline would run from West Virginia to Delmont, Pa., about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh.
The idea, according to Dominion, is to ease the transport of gas to storage fields and pipelines in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Enbridge CEO sees pipeline overcapacity from oil sands to U.S.

NEW YORK - Enbridge Inc. said pipeline companies have overbuilt capacity from Alberta to the U.S. in the hopes of capitalizing from a boom in the Canadian oil sands before crude prices fell from a record high.
The extra capacity could reach 200,000 to 400,000 b/d and will be used when companies like EnCana Corp. and Suncor Energy Inc. start production of new projects in the oil sands, said Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel.
“There is no doubt that we are going to have overbuilt the pipeline capacity needed ex-Alberta,” Daniel said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York on Oct. 7. “A good part of this is already committed, but the projects have yet to be developed that will bring that production on stream.”
Enbridge, the biggest shipper of crude from the oil sands, said ON Oct. 6 that it is in talks with producers such as EnCana, Suncor or Husky Energy Inc. to transport more of their crude on its existing Athabasca and Waupisoo conduits. About 20 percent of daily U.S. oil imports come from Canada, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kinder Morgan wins permission to operate pipelines at more pressure

HOUSTON - Pipeline transportation and energy storage company Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP said on Oct. 8 that it has received authorization from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to increase the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) on selected segments of three major natural gas pipelines that it operates from 72 to 80 percent of design.
The authorization will allow the Kinder Morgan Louisiana, Midcontinent Express and Rockies Express pipelines to provide their full current contracted capacity levels.
Pressure on a Kinder Morgan Louisiana pipeline will be increased to the 80 percent of design MAOP on the whole pipeline and will have 3.2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of capacity.
The Midcontinent Express Pipeline (MEP) pressure will be increased to the 80 percent of design MAOP on approximately 267 miles of Zone 1 for capacity of 1.4 Bcf per day. MEP's Zone 2 has a current capacity of nearly 1.0 Bcf per day.
The Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) pressure will be increased to capacity of 1.8 Bcf per day upon implementation of the 80 percent of design pressure from the Cheyenne Hub in Colorado to the Lebanon Hub in Ohio.

Friday, October 9, 2009

State regulators shoot down FPL's pipeline proposal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State regulators on Oct. 6 killed a proposal by Florida Power and Light to build a 300-mile natural gas pipeline. But the project may not be dead yet.
Under the plan, FPL customers would have to foot the bill for the pipeline's $1.5 billion price tag.
Florida Power and Light wants to convert its oil-fired power plants to run on natural gas. FPL spokeswoman Jackie Anderson says it will take a state-wide pipeline to make that happen.
"When those plants come back on line, they're going to be 33 percent more efficient. So, they're going to burn clean natural gas and they're also going to be saving customers money in the long run." says Anderson.
FP L wants the pipeline to go through Orange, Brevard, Volusia and Seminole counties. Construction will take five years to complete.
Critics worry about the project's safety. They wanted the Public Service Commission to vote “no.”
The Public Service Commission did that, but has problems of its own. On Oct. 6, one commissioner resigned, and the chairman is now a lame duck. Further, it's been charged that commission staffers may have tried to influence the vote on the pipeline.
"Some of the terminology that was used when concerns were explained was ‘railroading,’ says Public Service Commission head Nathan Skop.
Gov. Charlie Crist a week earlier decided not to re-appoint two commissioners, Skop being one of them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Superior Plus completes buy of Sunoco heating oil, propane business

Sunoco has completed the sale of its retail heating oil and propane distribution business to Superior Plus for approximately $86 million, including working capital. The deal was first announced on Sept. 2.
Superior Plus Corp. is a Canadian diversified company with interests in propane distribution, specialty chemicals, construction products distribution, and fixed-price energy services. Sunoco, Inc., is a U.S.-based refiner and marketer of petroleum and manufacturer of chemicals.
Sunoco's heating oil and propane distribution business includes Sunoco Home Comfort Services, Mohawk Home Comfort Services, Montour Home Comfort Services. It supplies liquid fuels and propane gas throughout Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware in the U.S.
The deal closed on Sept. 30.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TransCanada Keystone pipeline on schedule to reach Illinois in 2010

PATOKA, Ill. - By early 2010, hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of Canadian crude oil will flow into a giant tank farm here.
Work is nearing completion on TransCanada’s 2,148-mile, 30-inch pipeline from the oil sand fields of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Wood River, Ill., and an enormous tank farm at Patoka in rural Marion County.
The Keystone Pipeline was first announced in February 2005. It took a little more than two years to obtain permits from state and federal regulatory agencies. Construction didn't start until May 2008.
The line is nearly done, with safety testing under way. Initial crude oil shipments of 435,000 b/d are planned for the first quarter of 2010. By the end of 2010, the capacity will be increased to 590,000 b/d.
In its initial phase, oil from the Keystone project will flow into only a ConocoPhillips refinery at Wood River, Ill. During the second phase scheduled in 2010, oil flowing through a branch line to Cushing, Okla., will wind up in at least three refineries in Kansas.
Oil from the pipeline will be refined into gasoline and marketed over a wide area of the Midwest.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kinder Morgan, Energy Transfer get FERC OK to expand Midcontinent Express

WASHINGTON - Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP and Energy Transfer Partners LP have won U.S. approval to expand capacity on their 507-mile Midcontinent Express natural gas pipeline.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced the decision at an open meeting on Sept. 17 in Washington.
The Midcontinent Express is a joint venture of Kinder Morgan, based in Houston, and Energy Transfer, based in Dallas. The pipeline brings gas from southeast Oklahoma, across Texas and into Alabama.
“The project will provide access to new, growing sources of natural gas supplies with minimal adverse impacts,” according to a summary of the decision provided by the commission.

Monday, October 5, 2009

BC government announces reforms in wake of pipeline bombings

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. - With six unsolved bombing attacks targeting the gas pipeline industry in northeastern B.C., the province has announced a new program to resolve community concerns about traffic, noise, dust and environmental issues linked to the rapidly growing industry.
Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Blair Lekstrom announced a package of programs meant to improve relations between the industry and residents.
“While the industry brings jobs, infrastructure and economic development to the area, it also creates increased traffic, dust, noise, environmental and maintenance concerns,” Lekstrom said in a news release announcing the changes.
“These programs and regulations will help to address these issues that are so important to residents….”
But the minister was adamant that the changes - which will reduce the controversial practice of flaring, or burning off, of fuel - are not a response to the violent tactics of the bomber.
“We’ve been working on this long before whoever is responsible for those bombings began their crazy actions, so this is not a reaction to any of that. There was no intent to try and address whatever this crazy person is trying to accomplish. This has been in the works for some time,” Lekstrom said in a telephone interview from his northeastern B.C. riding.
There have been six bombings since last October in the area of Tomslake, B.C., located about 1,200 kilometers northeast of Vancouver near the Alberta boundary. All of the bombings have targeted Calgary-based EnCana. The last two occurred in July.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

CIRCOR acquires UK-based Pipeline Engineering & Supply Co. Ltd.

BURLINGTON, Mass. – NYSE-listed CIRCOR International, Inc., a provider of valves and other highly engineered products and subsystems that control the flow of fluids safely and efficiently in the aerospace, energy and industrial markets, on Sept. 28 announced that it has acquired Pipeline Engineering & Supply Co. Ltd., a privately held pipeline products and solutions company based in the United Kingdom. ‘
Pipeline Engineering generated approximately $30 million in revenues during its most recent fiscal year. Excluding acquisition-related costs, the transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dominion moves ahead with $600 million gas pipeline

RICHMOND, Va. - Dominion Resources is moving ahead with a proposed $600 million project to pipe natural gas from fields in West Virginia to southwest Pennsylvania.
Richmond-based Dominion plans to complete the project, which includes building 110 miles of pipeline and four compressor stations, by 2012.
Dominion says the pipeline would run from West Virginia to Delmont, Pa., about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh.
The idea, according to Dominion, is to ease the transport of gas to storage fields and pipelines in Pennsylvania.
Dominion said in a news release on Sept. 28 that it has begun the process of getting approval for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Texas company linked to Mexican oil smuggling

EDINBURG, Texas - An Edinburg gas company has joined the growing list of U.S. businesses linked to selling petroleum stolen from Mexico’s state-run oil monopoly.
Arnoldo Maldonado of Y Oil and Gas pleaded guilty on Sept. 25 to one count of conspiring to receive and sell stolen natural gas condensate illegally tapped from pipelines run by PetrĂ³leos Mexicanos (Pemex).
According to filings in a Houston federal court, Maldonado, from January to March, arranged three separate shipments of condensate he knew to be stolen. Using 22 tanker trucks, the company shipped the stolen product through unspecified land crossings with the intent to sell it to larger businesses in the oil and gas trade.
Maldonado’s arrest makes him the second Texas oil executive to face criminal charges in the two-year-old investigation.
In May, Donald Schroeder, president of Houston-based Trammo Petroleum, pleaded guilty to purchasing millions of dollars in stolen condensate and arranging for it to be shipped north on barges departing from Brownsville.

Chesapeake Energy launches pipeline company limited partnership

FORT WORTH, Texas - Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, which has a large regional office in Fort Worth, said late on Sept. 24 that it will raise $588 million in cash by selling half its natural gas pipelines in the Barnett Shale of North Texas, as well as properties in other petroleum basins.
Chesapeake, a major Barnett gas producer, said it has entered into a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with Global Infrastructure Partners, a New York-based private equity fund. Chesapeake will contribute the Barnett Shale pipelines and processing facilities, called "midstream assets," to the new Chesapeake Midstream Partners Llc.
GIP will pay $588 million for its 50 percent interest in CMP, and Chesapeake will retain the other half.
Chesapeake said in May that it was in talks with four potential bidders for a $500 million stake in its Barnett Shale midstream properties.
Chesapeake will contribute substantially all of its midstream assets in the Barnett Shale as well as most of the company’s nonshale midstream assets in the Arkoma, Anadarko, Delaware and Permian basins. The transaction is expected to close this month.
The deal will provide additional money for Chesapeake’s operations.
Chesapeake has large lease holdings in major shale gas plays such as the Barnett, the Haynesville in Louisiana and the Marcellus in the Appalachian area in the eastern United States.

Monday, September 28, 2009

AARP loses motion in Atlanta Gas Light surcharge case

ATLANTA, Ga. - The Georgia Public Service Commission on Sept. 8 denied a request to force Atlanta Gas Light Co. to disclose information on a planned $400 million pipeline system upgrade requested by one of the project’s critics.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to reject a “motion to compel” filed by AARP Georgia after AGL officials objected to answering questions about the gas utility’s plan to boost the capacity of pipelines throughout metro Atlanta and of three liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facilities in Cherokee and Rockdale counties and the city of Macon.
The 10-year project would be financed by increasing a surcharge the utility already is collecting for a pipeline replacement program.
During a brief debate, Commissioner Bobby Baker introduced a motion to reject a PSC staff recommendation to deny AARP’s request.
Although the AGL proposal is not a typical rate case, Baker argued that the utility raised issues normally associated with such proceedings.
“(The costs of) capital projects typically are recovered through ratemaking,” he said. “If parties like AARP can’t have an opportunity for discussion at this time, they’ll never have an opportunity.”
But commission Chairman Doug Everett said AARP submitted more than 140 questions, so many that forcing AGL to respond would unnecessarily slow the process.
“Some of the questions were, frankly, ridiculous,” added Commissioner Chuck Eaton.
Everett said AARP lawyers will have adequate opportunity to ask questions during two days of PSC hearings on the AGL project, which began on Sept. 9.
Commissioners defeated Baker’s motion, then voted to uphold the staff’s recommendations.

Atlanta Gas Light says pipeline plan would boost service

ATLANTA, Ga. - Speaking before the Georgia Public Service Commission, company executives of Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) said approval of the first three-year phase of the gas pipeline improvement plan would decrease the risk of outages for about 160,000 AGL customers in seven metro Atlanta communities: Gwinnett, Henry and Paulding counties, and Marietta, Conyers, Cumming and Newnan.
AGL said the planned expansion of pipeline capacity and natural gas storage facilities would reinforce its ability to provide gas service even if temperatures dipped to 10 degrees.
Expansion is necessary to meet the demand for gas that has increased with population growth in some areas outside the Perimeter, the company said.
The project has attracted attention because of its cost and because the utility has proposed to pay for it through a surcharge on ratepayers rather than making a standard rate recovery case before the PSC.
Critics, including consumer advocates, maintain that surcharge cases require less scrutiny of a company’s proposal, and that they can lead to overcharges.
Residential customers would pay an additional surcharge of 95 cents a month if the project is approved, on top of an existing monthly surcharge of $1.95. That fee pays for a pipeline replacement program AGL started in 1998.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Enterprise Products Partners to serve Eagle Ford Shale operator

HOUSTON - Enterprise Products Partners has entered into a long-term agreement to provide natural gas transportation and processing services in the developing Eagle Ford Shale play in Texas.
The agreement covers more than 150,000 acres in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale play. Stretching from the Mexico border along the Gulf Coast to near Louisiana, the Eagle Ford Shale covers more than 10 million acres in Texas and lies beneath or near the Enterprise Products Partners' energy assets in the region.
Michael Creel, EPP president and CEO, said: "This agreement represents another significant initiative in our ongoing strategy to strengthen Enterprise's position in the very promising Eagle Ford Shale, which has shown early success… Our integrated network of energy infrastructure in the region is strategically positioned and well-suited to accommodate the Eagle Ford Shale's extremely NGL-rich gas and will serve as a platform for additional growth opportunities, as well as incremental investments to expand our system as activity in this emerging play increases."
The completion of expansion projects at two of the partnership's seven South Texas processing plants during the first quarter of this year increased total processing capacity of the facilities to more than 1.5 billion cubic feet per day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Florida governor OKs Port Dolphin Energy deepwater port LNG project

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has approved Port Dolphin Energy’s deepwater port project that would supply natural gas to Florida.
As part of the federal permitting process, Crist is required to support, oppose or say he takes no position for the proposed liquid natural gas receiving terminal, a release said.
Port Dolphin plans to build a deepwater port in the Gulf of Mexico 28 miles west of Manatee County. Tankers would dock at the port and link up with a liquid natural gas pipeline that transports gas to Port Manatee and then inland, eventually connecting with the state’s natural gas pipeline grid.
The project is expected to generate more than $150 million in direct economic impact to Port Manatee and Manatee County during the next 20 years, the release said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2011.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tesoro moves first oil to Pacific on reversed Panama line

HOUSTON - Tesoro Corp. shipped its first barrels of crude oil from the Atlantic to the Pacific Basin on a reversed Panama pipeline, the company said on Aug. 27.
Reversal of the 81-mile (Petroterminal de Panama pipeline, which formerly flowed from the Pacific to the Atlantic, creates a new oil conduit from the Atlantic to the Pacific and gives Tesoro access to more crude for its refineries in California, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska, the company said.
"In addition to exposing Tesoro to an array of crude oils typically marketed in the Atlantic Basin, our abilities to utilize the tankage dedicated for Tesoro's exclusive use at PTP and the reversed pipeline are expected to afford our company strategic advantages related to freight, storage, blending, and delivery scheduling optimization," said Doug Koskie, vice president of arbitrage trading for Tesoro
Refining and Marketing Company.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

House T&I panel berates PHMSA for hazmat permitting record

WASHINGTON - The Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that oversees pipeline and other transport of hazardous materials has a lax permitting policy and maintains too cozy a relationship with the industry it regulates, according to the findings of congressional and Office of the Inspector General investigations that were released on Sept. 10 during a House oversight hearing.
PHMSA's oversight of hazardous materials transportation has raised safety concerns, Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel III said at the hearing.
"This agency needs a house cleaning," Oberstar said. "Safety is not a one-time snapshot; it's continued vigilance... and this agency has lost its way and along the way has developed a very cozy relationship with the industry it regulates."
The five-year-old agency has been issuing permits without reviewing companies' prior incident and enforcement histories and has been generous in issuing and regulating special permits, which authorize activities not covered under hazardous materials regulations.
Among other accusations, Oberstar and Scovel said PHMSA in some cases does not know where the special permits are being used; grants them to trade organizations that can pass them along to members in a blanket fashion; and relies on self-certification by the special permit applicants.
Sixty-five percent of the nonemergency special permits studied in the investigation were either incomplete, lacking evidence showing the applicant's safety record or were nonexistent, according to the inspector general's report. And of the 16 companies that held the majority of the special permits studied, none fully complied with the terms and conditions of the permits.
"Regulating and monitoring the movement of hazardous materials is a critical part of ensuring the safety of the nation's transportation system, and it is PHMSA's role to properly assess all risks before allowing applicants to participate in commerce under special permits and approvals," Scovel said.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Williams gets FERC approval to expand natural gas pipeline to Southeast

TULSA, Okla. - Natural gas producer Williams Companies, Inc., on Sept. 9 revealed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval for the proposed expansion of its Transco natural gas pipeline by 308,500 dekatherms per day to serve markets in the southeastern United States.
The expansion will be conducted in two phases. Construction of the first phase will begin this fall, while the second is expected to get underway next summer.
In the first phase of pipeline expansion, the Tulsa -based Williams expects to increase capacity by 90,000 dekatherms per day and in the second phase by 218,500 dekatherms per day.
The company also expects the 85 North project to require construction of approximately 22 miles of 42-inch pipeline for the proposed expansion, in addition to a new 20,500 horsepower compressor facility in Anderson with modifications to existing compressor facilities. Project facilities are expected to cost nearly $248 million.
The Transco pipeline is a 10,500-mile pipeline system that transports natural gas to markets throughout the northeastern and southeastern United State. With the current expansion, the total system capacity is expected to increase nearly 8.5 billion cubic feet per day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

U.S. businessman gave recording of corrupt Ecuadorian judge to Chevron

SAN RAMON, Calif. - Chevron Corp., battling a $27 billion environmental lawsuit in Ecuador, said it may pay the legal bills of a U.S. businessman whose secret recordings of meetings with the judge on the case led the jurist to step down.
Californian Wayne Hansen used a pen equipped with a tiny camera to record meetings he had in May and June with Judge Juan Nunez in Ecuador, Chevron admitted on Aug. 31.
Hansen told the judge he was seeking contracts for his company to clean up oil contamination if Nunez ruled Chevron was responsible for environmental damage in the Amazon Basin, according to Chevron’s translation of the conversations, which were in Spanish.
Chevron alleges that Nunez disclosed his intention to rule against the company at the meetings. Ecuador Prosecutor General Washington Pesantez said on Sept. 8 that the recordings, which Chevron provided to the government, show Nunez told Hansen that he would have to wait until Nunez issued a decision to find out the ruling. Pesantez said he’s investigating the matter.
If Hansen “incurs future legal costs related to this matter, it would only be fair that we consider assisting him,” Kent Robertson, a Chevron spokesman, said in an e- mailed statement.
Chevron paid for Ecuadorean contractor Diego Borja, who also attended and recorded the meetings with Hansen, to leave Ecuador and is providing him with financial support, Robertson said on Sept. 1, without disclosing specific amounts.
Borja and Hansen were asked to pay a $3 million bribe by a political operative in Ecuador’s ruling party to get pollution cleanup contracts, Chevron says the recordings show.
Hansen declined to comment and referred questions to San Francisco criminal defense attorney Mary McNamara, who confirmed that she’s representing him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pipeline limited partnerships rank-ordered by yield

The following list rank-orders pipeline limited partnerships from the ones with the highest annual yield to those with the lowest annual yield. Data is as of the market close on Sept. 4, 2009, before the long Labor Day weekend.
Linn Energy LLC. (LINE) – developer of oil and gas properties. Attractive 11.88 percent dividend yield.
Ferrellgas Partners LP (FGP) – distributor of propane and related equipment and supplies. Attractive 10.24 percent dividend yield.
Amerigas Partners LP (APU) – retail propane distributor play was. Attractive 9.71 percent dividend yield.
Teekay LNG Partners LP (TGP) – natural gas and crude oil shipping play. Attractive 9.69 percent dividend yield.
Inergy LP (NRGY) – seller, distributor, storage, marketing, trade, processing, and fractionation of propane, natural gas, and other natural gas liquids company. Attractive 9.59 percent dividend yield.
Duncan Energy Partners LP (DEP) – transporting, marketing, and storing natural gas company. Attractive 9.41 percent dividend yield.
Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP) – oil & gas pipeline play. Attractive 9.21 percent dividend yield.
Kinder Morgan Management LLC (KMR) – energy transportation and storage company. Attractive 8.89 percent dividend yield.
Teppco Partners LP (TPP) – petroleum pipeline play. Attractive 8.88 percent dividend yield.
Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) – natural gas midstream play. Attractive 8.70 percent dividend yield.
Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD) – midstream energy oil and natural gas services play. Attractive 8.15 percent dividend yield.
Buckeye Partners Ltd. (BPL) – refined petroleum products play. Attractive 7.95 percent dividend yield.
Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (BWP) – natural gas transportation and storage play. Attractive 8.32 percent dividend yield.
NuStar Energy LP (NS) – storage and transportation of petroleum products. Attractive 8.00 percent dividend yield.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) – energy transportation and storage company. Attractive 7.97 percent dividend yield.
Suburban Propane LP (SPH) – distributor of propane, fuel oil, kerosene, diesel fuel, gasoline, and refined fuels. Attractive 7.97 percent dividend yield.
Energy Transfer Equity LP (ETE) – engages in natural gas midstream, transportation, and storage; and retail of propane. Attractive 7.86 percent dividend yield.
Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP) – engages in the transportation, storage, and distribution of refined petroleum products. Attractive 7.83 percent dividend yield.
Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA) – oil and gas storage and transportation play. Attractive 7.55 percent dividend yield.
TC Pipelines LP (TCLP) – natural gas transportation. Attractive 7.51 percent dividend yield.
Sunoco Logistics Partners LP (SXL) – transport and storage of refined products and crude oil player. Attractive 7.42 percent dividend yield.
Western Gas Partners LP (WES) – midstream natural gas play. Attractive 7.31 percent dividend yield.
Enterprise GP Holdings LP (EPE) – midstream energy play. Attractive 7.23 percent dividend yield.
NuStar GP Holdings, LLC (NSH) – transportation and storage of petroleum products play. Attractive 7.20 percent dividend yield.
Inergy Holdings LP (NRGP) – retail and wholesale propane supply, marketing, and distribution company approaching 52-week highs. Attractive 7.12 percent dividend yield.
El Paso Partners Pipeline LP (EPB) – operator of natural gas transportation pipelines, storage, and other midstream assets. Attractive 6.74percent dividend yield.
Magellan Midstream Holdings LP (MGG) – petroleum products transport and storage play. Attractive 6.52 percent dividend yield.
AGL Resources (AGL) – natural gas play. Attractive 5.02 percent dividend yield.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Florida county officials support compromise pipeline route

MANATEE, Fla. - Manatee County commissioners said on Sept. 3 that they will support a compromise route for the proposed Port Dolphin pipeline, but only with conditions. Among them: That the county be allowed to remove high-quality beach sand in the natural gas pipeline’s proposed path before it is built.
That’s the position the county plans to submit to the U.S. Coast Guard, which is taking public comment on a draft environmental study of Port Dolphin Energy LLC’s $1 billion proposal.
The company wants to put a platform 28 miles from shore, where ships would unload liquefied natural gas. The gas then would be shipped through the pipeline, which would come ashore at Port Manatee and connect with existing land pipelines for distribution.
County and Longboat Key officials initially objected to the pipeline’s original proposed route because it would cross prime sources of sand for beach renourishment. The company later agreed to move the pipeline farther north but not far enough in the eyes of town officials, who continue to explore possible legal action.
“We are pleased that there is a potential resolution for us to move sand out of the way in advance,” said Bruce St. Denis, Longboat Key’s town manager.
Port Dolphin officials also have said they are willing to help the county get the sand by paying the permitting costs, estimated at $400,000 to $500,000, as well as sharing in the dredging costs, said Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s natural resources director. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection also has indicated a willingness to reduce the permitting process from two or three years to as little as one year, he said.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Quanta Services to acquire pipeline service company Price Gregory

HOUSTON - Quanta Services, Inc., on Sept. 3 announced that it has agreed to acquire privately held Price Gregory Services, Inc., a leading natural gas and oil
transmission pipeline infrastructure service provider in North America, in a
cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $350 million.
Under the terms of the agreement, Quanta will issue approximately 11.1 million shares of Quanta common stock, valued at $250 million, and will pay approximately $100 million in cash, subject to adjustment, to the stockholders of Price Gregory.
Price Gregory is the leading energy infrastructure services provider of its
kind, specializing in the construction of large-diameter transmission
The acquisition of Price Gregory strongly positions Quanta as a leader in the North American energy transmission infrastructure market and will enable the company to take advantage of the positive long-term outlook for the natural gas industry.
"The acquisition of Price Gregory is a strategic move that will significantly
expand the scale and scope of Quanta's existing natural gas operations. We are
confident that the additional resources, expertise and client relationships
that Price Gregory brings will support our efforts to capture attractive
opportunities in the natural gas pipeline infrastructure market, which is
projected to grow significantly in the next decade and beyond," said John R.
Colson, chairman and chief executive officer of Quanta.
Prior to the global economic downturn, Price Gregory achieved revenues of more
than $1.41 billion and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
amortization (EBITDA, a non-GAAP measure) of $258 million for the year ended
Dec. 31, 2008. Price Gregory is expected to achieve revenues between $1.1
billion and $1.2 billion and EBITDA between $170 million and $190 million for
the year ended Dec. 31, 2009, and revenues between $700 million and $900
million in 2010.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Latent hurricane damage investigated in Eugene Island pipeline accident

HOUSTON - Investigators are assessing whether latent damage from recent hurricanes contributed to the Eugene Island pipeline leak in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in July, a federal pipeline agency spokesman said on Sept. 1.
Damon Hill, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), said the issue is an ongoing concern after recent active seasons featuring several strong storms.
"We do know that a lot of pipelines were affected in the Gulf from past hurricanes, especially when Katrina and Rita came. There were a lot of after-effects," said Hill, whose agency is leading the inquiry.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service, part of the investigation team, acknowledges the possibility of undetected damage after offshore oilfields were raked by storms, notably Ivan in 2004, Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008.
"So far, we have not seen a trend of damage showing up later. Of course, with back-to-back storms, it may be hard to determine," said Eileen Angelico, spokeswoman for MMS.
Pipeline operator Shell Pipeline, which has said it expects to have the line repaired and back in operation by late September, declined comment on potential causes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Energy Transfer Partners completes Texas, Colorado pipelines

DALLAS - Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. announced on Aug. 31 the completion of the 160-mile Texas Independence Pipeline. This new natural gas pipeline increases the Partnership`s take away capacity in Texas by an incremental 1.1 billion cubic feet per day.
Energy Transfer operates the largest intrastate pipeline system in Texas, with nearly 8,000 miles of pipeline in the state.
Energy Transfer has also completed the Rulison expansion project in Colorado.
The 42-inch Texas Independence natural gas pipeline serves the Bossier and
Barnett Shale natural gas resource plays in east and north central Texas.
Originating just west of Maypearl, Texas, and ending near Henderson, Texas, the
Texas Independence Pipeline connects the Partnership`s existing central and
north Texas infrastructure to its east Texas pipeline network. With the addition
of compression, the project may be expanded to transport natural gas volumes in
excess of 1.75 billion cubic feet per day.
"The completion of the Texas Independence Pipeline is another exciting milestone for us as it is our third 42-inch natural gas pipeline in Texas that allows
natural gas from Waha, the Barnett Shale and Bossier Sands to reach markets
throughout east and southeast Texas," said Roy Patton, senior vice president -
commercial, Energy Transfer Partners. "While we continue to build necessary
infrastructure in the Fort Worth Basin, our efforts remain equally focused on
expanding our system into other emerging natural gas fields, including the
Fayetteville and Haynesville, where previously announced pipeline projects
proceed as scheduled. We want to take our leadership position in the Barnett
Shale and leverage that in these new areas in order to continue to offer our
customers the unparalleled market access they have come to expect from us."
The Rulison expansion project includes the 10-mile, 24-inch Rulison pipeline and
the Holmes Mesa compressor station in Garfield County, Colo. These projects
are designed to increase the capacity of the Partnership`s South Parachute -
Rifle pipeline system. The project will also create a new outlet for producers
to access the Meeker processing plant at the White River Hub.
The Rulison pipeline will initially add more than 70 million cubic feet per day
of capacity, with the ability to expand to more than 200 million cubic feet per
day in the future. The Holmes Mesa compressor station has more than 9,000
horsepower of compression.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kinder Morgan buying Crosstex gas assets for $266 million

HOUSTON - Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP said on Aug. 31 that it will purchase the natural gas treating business of Dallas-based Crosstex Energy LP and Crosstex Energy Inc. for about $266 million.
The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, will make the Houston pipeline transportation company the largest provider of contract-provided treating plants in the United States.
KMP is purchasing approximately 290 amine-treating and dew-point control plants predominantly located in Texas and Louisiana, with additional facilities in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas. The transaction will make KMP the largest provider of contract-provided treating plants in the United States.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity and financial strength to grow our company even during difficult economic times,” said Richard D. Kinder, chairman and CEO of KMP. “We look forward to offering natural gas treating services to our Texas intrastate customers and to other producers in various supply basins, including the rapidly developing shale plays.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Plains All American acquiring Vulcan Capital share in natural gas storage venture

HOUSTON - Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. and Vulcan Capital on Aug. 28 announced that they have executed definitive agreements under which a subsidiary of PAA will acquire Vulcan Capital's 50 percent indirect interest in PAA Natural Gas Storage, LLC (PNGS).
The aggregate purchase price of $220 million consists of $90 million cash, 1.9 million PAA common units valued at $90 million and deferred contingent cash consideration of up to $40 million. The contingent consideration is subject to achievement of certain events and performance milestones expected to occur over the next several years. The transaction is expected to close on Sept. 3, 2009.
As a result of the transaction, PAA will own all of the natural gas storage business and related operating entities, which will be accounted for on a consolidated basis.
The Partnership has historically accounted for its 50 percent indirect interest in PNGS under the equity method. At closing, PAA will repay the joint venture's outstanding project finance debt using joint venture cash and borrowings under its revolving credit facility. As of June 30, 2009, the joint venture had approximately $450 million of debt and approximately $52 million of cash.

U.S. natural gas storage near to full, worries of further price deflation grow

U.S. energy companies have been stuffing extra gas into salt caverns, aquifers and depleted oil wells. By the time winter heating demand starts to empty these reservoirs, analysts predict they will be brimming with record amounts of the fuel, possibly growing so full that gas backs up into pipelines.
The prospect of not enough storage could further deflate U.S. gas prices that have recently traded at seven-year lows.
Storage in the gas-rich producing region that stretches from Alabama to New Mexico has hit a record 1,074 billion cubic feet more than two months before the traditional end of the gas injection season.
The region is home to the Henry Hub, the Louisiana delivery point for gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where gas for October delivery on Aug. 26 traded at $3.27 per million British thermal units.
Options traders have recently stepped up bets that prices will fall below $2 per mBtu by then, and spot gas could drop even further if producers have nowhere to store their output.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Northwestern Energy blames frost, not negligence, for fatal Montana blast

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Natural external forces, like frost heaving, may have been
responsible for a natural gas pipe failure that caused a fatal explosion in downtown Bozeman last March, Northwestern Energy chief executive officer Bob Rowe said on Aug. 24.
Rowe was seeking to answer the question, at least in his view, of who is liable for the millions that will be required to rebuild half the 200 block of East Main Street in Bozeman.
"What (investigators) are seeing so far is not showing liability on our part," Rowe told about 50 people gathered at the Bozeman Public Library. "If there's a natural occurrence, it's not a liability." Liability is based on negligence, he said.
Although the investigation is still not complete, there is nothing to suggest the service line that failed had undergone gradual deterioration, Rowe said.
The "freshness" of the 7.5-inch crack that went three-quarters of the way around the 2-inch service line, indicated it was caused by "sudden forces" and "very close to the time of the explosion," Rowe said.
As to which came first, the crack in the pipe or the explosion, Rowe said after the meeting: "There may never be a definitive answer."
Rowe acknowledged that the various insurance companies involved in the investigation may have different opinions. "It's probable, rather likely, that conclusions will differ," Rowe said.
And though the mood at the meeting was more than civil - many who had questions for Rowe also thanked him for his company's response to the blast - that didn't deter those people from voicing their frustration.
"It took 15 to 16 hours to turn the gas off two years ago" when there was a significant natural gas leak behind the parking garage construction on East Mendenhall Street, said Mike Hope, owner of the Rocking R Bar that was destroyed in the March 5 blast. "Didn't you learn something then? Was there anything done back then?"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Russian hackers vandalized BTC Pipeline data servers

According to Aviation Week, Russian hackers have been attacking the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline data server.
Hacker attacks have caused suspensions in BTC operations, forcing the Eastern Oil Consortium to redirect the oil through the Baku-Novorossiysk Russian pipeline. “After U.S. experts restored the BTC server, the pipeline operation was recovered,” Aviation Week says.
The publication said the attacks had the same IPs as those of Estonian websites swamped during the 2007 Estonian Cyberwar. The source stressed that cyber crime officers of the Intelligence Service and FBI got BTC data servers under control and migrated them to Washington.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enbridge Alberta Clipper permit sparks criticism in Canada and U.S.

FORT McMURRAY, Alta. - The U.S. presidential permit granted Aug. 20 for Enbridge's controversial Alberta Clipper pipeline has launched environmental protests on both sides of the border, with opponents vowing a legal challenge.
According to a coalition of environmental and Native American groups, the decision goes against U.S. President Barack Obama's promise to cut global warming pollution and America’s addition to oil while investing in clean energy.
The groups - Earthjustice and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy as well as the Canadian and American offices of the Sierra Club and the Indigenous Environmental Network - have vowed to challenge the decision in court.
In addition, the indigenous network based in Minnesota is looking into the validity of the permit, as it wasn't signed by Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, as required. Marty Cobenais of the network said it was signed by the deputy assistant director instead, and he wants to check its validity. Cobenais says the coalition, especially the Leech Lake Band, which stands to be the most affected by the pipeline, is in for a David and Goliath fight with a multibillion-dollar industry and the American government.
“This fight isn't even just about the pipeline. We're fighting this fight down here … because we're against the expansion of the (Alberta) tar sands also,” said Cobenais.
The $3.6-billion Alberta Clipper pipeline will carry oil sands product from Hardisty, Alta. It will extend 525 kilometers from the U.S.-Canadian border near Neche, N.D., across northern Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. The project also includes associated pumping and terminal stations. Scheduled to be up and running in 2010, the pipeline will have an initial capacity of 450,000 b/d of heavy bituminous syncrude. A second 51-centimeter parallel pipeline, Southern Lights, will extend 307 kilometers from Superior to an Enbridge terminal in Clearbrook, Minn.