Friday, October 29, 2010

Deaths in Myanmar oil pipeline accident rise

Up to 100 people are now thought to have died from injuries sustained when a leaking oil pipeline was set ablaze in Burma’s central Magwe division last week.

Fourteen people were reported killed in the immediate aftermath of the incident close to Nyaung Hla village. A local in the Myit Chay village-tract where Nyaung Hla is located said that “only black pieces remained of their bodies”.

Subsequent reports claim that the death toll is far higher than 14, with at least 100 now thought to have died.

Eighteen people were hospitalized in Myit Chay, where two reportedly died on Oct. 25. Another 40 people hospitalized in Kyun Chaung and about 30 of them were reportedly in critical condition.

The pipeline, which transports oil between Magwe division and Sagaing division to the north, erupted on Oct. 24 as locals were scavenging for oil. Eye-witnesses said the force of the heat split the pipeline in two.

PG&E says it may need $425 million for 300 automated shutoff valves

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Criticized for its long delay in manually shutting off gas to the ruptured San Bruno pipeline, PG&E said on Oct. 25 that it has identified some 300 manual gas valves that may need to be replaced with faster automatic or remotely controlled shut-off technology, at a potential cost of up to $450 million.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, hosted a meeting on Oct. 25 for PG&E officials to explain to mayors from across the Bay Area more about natural gas main shutoff valves and other pipeline details.

In its disclosures on Oct. 25, PG&E noted that the cost of replacing a manual valve with one that automatically closes after a drop in pressure from a pipe rupture or that can be remotely controlled by a human operator varies from $100,000 to $1.5 million, depending on such factors as how accessible the valve is for retrofitting. But it was vague about how many valves it has - manual or otherwise - as well as how long it might take to replace them all.
"The urgency is pretty obvious," said Speier, noting that PG&E told her earlier that a single valve replacement can take up to nine months. "

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SAWS, Ameresco open first-of-kind biogas facility, pipeline

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and Ameresco have opened their new biogas facility at the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center.

The biogas project is the first sustainable project of its kind in the nation, capturing biogas generated during the sewage treatment process and selling it through a commercial gas pipeline.

Methane gas is generated by biosolids during the sewage treatment process.

Previously, SAWS burned off the gas using flares. With a new 20-year partnership, Ameresco will treat and transfer at least 900,000 cubic feet of gas to a nearby commercial gas pipeline, where they will sell it on the open market. In return, SAWS ratepayers will receive a royalty on the sale of the gas, estimated at $200,000 a year, reducing the cost of SAWS operations and keeping rates affordable.

SAWS is the first large wastewater utility to partner with a private sector company, Ameresco, to actively sell biogas in the United States.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kinder Morgan misses earnings estimate, raises cash distribution

Kinder Morgan Partners LP (NYSE: KMP) has reported missing revenue and earnings per share estimates, but raised its cash distribution by six percent to $1.11 per share.

Revenue of $2.06 billion was up 24 percent, year over year, but still missed the consensus estimate of $2.1 billion. Earnings of 17 cents per unit were 22 cents less than analysts were expecting.

The company said it was on track for a full-year distribution of $4.40 per unit.

Kinder Morgan’s products pipeline business saw benefits from increased transport of ethanol, the company said, particularly in California. The natural gas pipeline unit saw higher volume and was on track to exceed its annual budget by five percent, the company said.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Judge dismisses suit over Enbridge oil pipeline expansions

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A federal judge in Minnesota has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the permits for two Enbridge oil pipelines in the Upper Midwest.

The environmental groups who brought the lawsuit claimed the government didn't properly analyze the effects of the two pipelines being built by Enbridge Energy. But U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank disagreed, and said that the government gave the projects a "hard look" before granting permits.

The Alberta Clipper pipeline brings crude oil to the U.S. from Canada's oil sands. It runs from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wis., through Minnesota and northeastern North Dakota.

The Southern Lights pipeline runs from Manhattan, Ill., to Clearbrook, Minn., and hooks up with another line carrying a light petroleum liquid (diluent) to Canada’s oil sands.

Friday, October 22, 2010

First lawsuits filed against PG&E over San Bruno pipeline explosion

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Five families filed lawsuits on Oct. 19 alleging that PG&E knew its pipeline was "defective" and posed extreme danger to the community.
At a state Senate hearing, tearful victims pressed state and utility officials to remove the pipeline from their neighborhood.
One of the lawsuits came from Susan Bullis, who lost her husband, Greg,
50; her son William, 17; and her mother-in-law, Lavonne, 82, in the
Sept. 9 blast that destroyed 37 homes. The remains of the two older
Bullises were so badly burned that they had to be identified using DNA
The lawsuit blames the deaths on PG&E, alleging that the utility knew Line 132 was "defective." PG&E's internal documents said a portion of that line, just miles from the site of the explosion, had an unacceptably high risk of failure.
"Yet (PG&E) has failed time and again to take any action to protect the
citizens imperiled by it," the Bullis lawsuit alleges.
PG&E spokeswoman Katie Romans said the utility had not yet received copies of the lawsuits and declined to comment.