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.