Sunday, April 29, 2012

Enbridge outlines new crude oil pipeline project to serve Cushing Hub

PONTIAC, Ill. - Enbridge representatives on April 23 discussed a proposed new pipeline project that would begin north of Pontiac, Ill., and terminate at the Cushing, Okla., hub beginning in 2014.

While the project is in its preliminary stages, Enbridge is holding open houses in the four states affected - Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma - to try and educate the public on the proposed 600-mile pipeline.

An Enbridge  open house was held at the Pontiac Rec Center and about 50 people had stopped in by 7 p.m., said Lorraine Little, senior manager of Enbridge public affairs.

"There has been good interest shown for the project," she said.

The proposed crude oil pipeline would run parallel to the current Spearhead pipeline for the most part, said Jerrid Anderson, project manager. About 170 miles would be in Illinois, he said.

"There would be about a 50-foot offset between the pipelines. The new line will not replace the Spearhead. They would both be operational,” he explained.

The Spearhead line has a capacity for 190,000 barrels per day (b/d), while the new pipeline would be able to carry 600,000 b/d. The new pipeline, originally conceived to use 30-inch diameter pipe, was changed to a larger 36-inch diameter pipe. The pipe would be buried four feet underground.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Opposition organizes to Canada-New England tarsands pipeline

A proposal by Canadian Energy giant Enbridge, Inc. to partially reverse the flow of a Canadian pipeline has received 41,000 comments in opposition.

The reversal is the first step in a plan to ship tarsands oil through New England in order to access East Coast and overseas markets.

Comments to the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) expressed concerns about the environmental and public health impacts of the proposal.

The NEB, the Canadian federal agency that oversees permitting interprovincial pipelines, is reviewing Enbridge's proposal to reverse the flow direction of a portion of its aging 62-year-old pipeline to move tar sands crude approximately 125 miles from Sarnia to the Westover Oil Terminal, outside of Hamilton, Ontario. Pipeline companies have sent clear signals that the real intent is a long-range plan to ship tar sands oil further on through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to tankers in Portland harbor for Eastern U.S. and overseas markets.

"A more responsible approach would be for the Canadian Energy Board to order an investigation into the full environmental impact of the larger project, including the safety implications of shipping tar sands and impacts on the environment, waterways and communities and carbon pollution from burning tar sands oil," said Jim Murphy, senior counsel at NWF. "Enbridge is trying to skirt scrutiny and downplay their goals by breaking the plan into smaller pieces. The public isn't fooled. New Englanders are opposed to tar sands in our region and demand a transparent process."

The latest permit application follows Enbridge's 2008 effort, a pipeline project called "Trailbreaker" to move tar sands oil 750 miles from mining operations in Alberta through Ontario and Quebec and across New England to Portland, Maine, where the crude would be loaded onto tankers for export. Purportedly due to the economic downturn, Enbridge temporarily shelved the project.

"The people of Vermont do not want to live side-by-side with the dirtiest fuel in existence flowing through our communities, threatening to seep into our streams and lakes and pollute our natural resources. The Canadian government should stop this spurious scheme," said Steve Crowley, chair of the Vermont Sierra Club. "Not only can pipelines rupture, pumping stations can break down too, wreaking untold harm on a community."

Alberta tar sands oil is a heavily-polluting type of viscous crude oil, a mixture of sand, clay, water and bitumen, that must be diluted before it can be pumped through pipelines. Diluted bitumen is more corrosive on pipelines than conventional oil and harder to clean up when spilled, as proven by the devastating spill of over 800,000 gallons from an Enbridge pipeline of over one million gallons into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010.

The coalition of U.S. and Canadian public interest and environmental groups leading efforts to stop the Trailbreaker pipeline include:
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Environmental Defense Canada
  • Environment Maine
  • Environment Northeast
  • Ăˆquiterre
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Natural Resources Council of Maine
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Sierra Club

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feds say ROW agent bilked DCP Midstream out of $624,426 in Eagle Ford Shale

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The FBI on April 19 took two men into custody and charged them with a fraud scheme that agents say bilked $624,426 from a company doing work in the Eagle Ford shale.

Jeff Clark, 36, and Daniel Chance, 48, were charged with wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracy in a federal indictment returned April 18 in San Antonio.

"The scams that we traditionally see in other areas ... are now making their way into this industry," said special agent Erik Vasys, spokesman for the FBI in San Antonio. "Wherever big money is involved, the scammers will come."

The FBI alleges Clark, of Kenedy, Texas, was the principal behind the scam. The indictment says he was hired by DCP Midstream L.P., a subsidiary of the Denver-based company that transports and markets natural gas, in May 2010 as a contract right-of-way damages agent. He was put under contract with Gilcrease & Partners, now known as G&P Land in San Antonio, which provides such agents, the indictment said.

Clark's job was to track compliance with landowner contracts, maintain contact with landowners, address their complaints and issue payments to them for damages to property resulting from pipeline construction. Like other DCP agents, he was given a DCP checkbook for the payments.

The indictment said Clark wrote DCP checks to buy items for his own personal use, and received kickbacks on checks he wrote to others - sometimes for damages that never occurred.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners increases quarterly distribution to $1.20 per unit

HOUSTON, Texas - Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: KMP) on April 18 increased its quarterly cash distribution per common unit to $1.20 ($4.80 annualized) payable on May 15 to unitholders of record as of April 30.

This represents a five percent increase over the first quarter 2011 cash distribution per unit of $1.14 ($4.56 annualized) and is up from $1.16 per unit ($4.64 annualized) for the fourth quarter of 2011. KMP has increased the distribution 43 times since current management took over in February of 1997.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Williams blames natural gas compressor station explosion on worker error

MONTROSE, Pa. - State regulators and natural gas company officials faced nearly two hours of questions from residents about safety, air pollution and eroded public confidence during a briefing on April 17 at Montrose Area High School about a recent natural gas compressor station explosion.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection and Williams, the company that owns the compressor station, sought to fill in gaps in the public understanding of the explosion and fire at the Lathrop station on March 29 and reassure citizens that the operations are safe.

Frank Billings, vice president for Williams' natural gas gathering and processing operations for the region, said the incident began with a worker error during maintenance of one of the compressor engines at the station. The company has since reviewed and reiterated its training protocols.

The mistake allowed gas to enter the compressor before it was ready, and the gas in the building ignited. Workers evacuated the site safely, he said. One employee suffered a minor injury that was reported after the incident.

"It was really a failure to follow one of our basic administration and safety procedures," he said.