Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Connector Pipeline’
The Douglas County Planning Commission Thursday threw a monkey wrench in a developer’s plan to export liquefied natural gas through a pipeline that would cross Douglas County.
Developers now seek to export rather than import gas through a Coos Bay terminal, but their request was effectively rebuffed after the commissioners twice tied 3-3 on the issue.
A seventh commissioner, Mark Brosi, attempted to vote to allow the pipeline but was told by county staff that he was disqualified because he did not attend hearings on the subject and had not reviewed the record.
County Planning Director Keith Cubic said the developer will likely appeal to the Douglas County commissioners and, if they lose at that level, could challenge the decision to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would move natural gas from the Plains and Canada to Coos Bay. The planning commission in 2009 issued a permit for the pipeline to cross 7 miles within the county’s Coastal Zone Management Area, but restricted the company to import natural gas only.
Market conditions have caused the developers to propose exporting natural gas, forcing the companies to seek new permits from federal regulators and counties affected by the project.
Planning Commissioner William Duckett voted against granting the permit to pipeline company Williams and energy developer Veresen U.S. Power.
He said they had used a “bait-and-switch” approach to gaining county approval for the project in 2009.
“When the applicant came in, sitting right here in front of us, we asked specifically, ‘Is this going to be for export?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely not, this not going to be for export. This is going to be for import only,’” Duckett said. “I think in my own viewpoint, it’s come in kind of like a Trojan horse.”
Commissioner Javier Goirigolzarri said he does not think the pipeline’s impact would be any different if it exports or imports gas.
“I’ll be darned if I can tell if the gas is going up, down, on or off at any point in time when I walk over the gas lines that are already in existence,” Goirigolzarri said.
Commissioner Romey Ware said it would be good to export natural gas.
“Countries that do well have a low trade deficit,” he said. “We’ve got commodities here that need to be exploited for the betterment of our country.”
Commissioner Victoria Hawks, who moved to reject the export request, said she felt other factors should be considered than those on which they were expected to make their decision.
She said the public here or in other Western states would not benefit from the gas if it is exported.
“That is not our public need. It may be somebody else’s, but I don’t think we have anything to do with that,” Hawks said.
Duckett, Hawks and Darrel Murphy voted twice to reject the export request. Ware, Goirigolzarri and George Seonbuchner voted twice to allow it.
“I think that’s what we call a hung jury,” Goirigolzarri said.
On Cubic’s advice, commissioners took a third, unanimous vote acknowledging that they could not come to an agreement and that failure meant the export request was not approved.
After the meeting, landowners with property in the pipeline’s pathway said they were pleased with the planning commission’s decision.
“I think that the commission did a good job. They did what they’re supposed to do in sorting out what is appropriate,” said landowner Richard Chasm.
He said the county commissioners will be taking up “a hot potato” once the decision is appealed to them.
Developers’ representatives who attended the meeting declined to comment and deferred questions to spokesman George Angerbauer.
“Pacific Connector is disappointed in the treatment of our land use application and we will appeal the commission’s decision. We understand there are questions about the pipeline project and the direction natural gas would flow through the pipeline, but these questions have no bearing on the project’s consistency with county land use plan and code requirements. We look forward to clarifying that point on appeal,” Angerbauer said.
by Jenny Mandel, E&E reporter
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Domestic natural gas prices could nearly triple by 2030 if high levels of exports are seen, according to a study paid for by Dow Chemical Co.
"If left unmonitored, high [liquefied natural gas] exports could prevail at the cost of the broader economy," the report warns.
A "likely" level of LNG exports of 20 billion cubic feet per day would send prices to $8.80 per million British thermal units in 2030, the analysis says, while a "high" export scenario of 35 bcf/day by that year would put them at $10.30/MMBtu. That is above the $6.30/MMBtu the study says would otherwise be seen in 2030, given what it describes as a "reasonable" demand forecast.
Consulting group Charles River Associates (CRA) released the study, carried out for Dow, yesterday. The analysis was commissioned to take into account a draft study of LNG exports published by the Energy Department in December and carried out by NERA Economic Consulting, as well as comments received by DOE in response to that study.
The Dow report was completed to inform the company's comments filed during a second round of feedback solicited on that study by DOE that wrapped up late last month (EnergyWire, Feb. 26).
NERA considered export scenarios with between 6 bcf/day and 12 bcf/day of exports, far less than the "likely" level reflected in CRA's assessment.
Dow did not directly publicize the study, though Charles River Associates issued a news release on it yesterday. A representative for the chemical company said it had no comment on its contents beyond the feedback submitted to DOE.
The wisdom and proper legal treatment of exporting LNG or keeping it in the United States to support domestic manufacturing and other uses have been hotly debated, and Dow has been among the loudest voices urging DOE to move slowly in approving export applications.
Some stakeholders in the debate have said Dow should provide analysis supporting its claims that energy-intensive manufacturers would be harmed by extensive exports, and the study responds to that argument. DOE is obliged to carefully consider comments received through the public comment process in deciding how to proceed on 18 projects currently awaiting broad export permits.
The analysis focuses on domestic price effects of higher LNG exports, rather than global price adjustments, and reflects announcements by manufacturing companies of "more than $90 billion" in new plants and other facilities that would, if built, consume natural gas.
It claims that the NERA study misrepresents the natural gas intensity of certain manufacturing segments and underestimates future demand from manufacturing, natural gas vehicles and the replacement of coal-fired electric power generation.
The result, CRA concluded, is an underestimate of the employment, trade balance and gross domestic product effects of expanded LNG exports.
"Current expectations for a low cost, gas-driven electricity economy and significant deployment of natural gas vehicles could be foregone due to LNG exports," the firm said.
Click here for the CRA study.
Thanks too to Senator Wyden for his Message to FERC–Longer Comment Period For Pacific Connector Pipeline and Listen More to other Federal Agencies
Thank you Senator Wyden.
Click here for copy of letter
Click here to read Rep. DeFazio's letter to FERC.
by Gabe Scott
Last week’s massive refinery fire in Richmond, California should serve as a wake-up call. Not that we needed another to remind us of a basic fact: oil and gas infrastructure is dangerous. When things go wrong, they go very wrong, very quickly.
Add this to the list of reasons why the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG export terminal at Coos Bay is a bad idea: it’s not safe.
I’ve been participating lately in a nationwide citizen committee on pipeline safety, put together by the Pipeline Safety Trust (http://www.pstrust.org/initiatives_programs/New-Voices-Project/). The opportunity to share information and learn from activists, landowners, industry and regulators has been astounding, and has opened my eyes to the downsides of natural gas infrastructure that, as an environmentalist, I admit I hadn’t given enough thought to.
Here’s the thing about gas pipelines and LNG plants — they blow up. They blow up a lot. They blow up big. And the people who you might expect would put safety first, don’t.
Liquefied Natural Gas, like natural gas, is highly flammable. When spilled, it can easily go “boom.” As a matter of fact, because of its physical properties, spilled LNG also goes “boom” when it comes in contact with water, a phenomenon called “rapid phase transition” (see below video). In 2004, an explosion at an Algerian LNG liquefaction facility killed 27.
The Pipeline phase of the project would transmit natural gas through a 36” diameter transmission pipeline. Gas pipeline explosions can be massively destructive. In 1994, a 36-inch gas distribution line in Edison, New Jersey broke, threw rocks and debris more than 800 feet, and exploded in a blaze over 400 feet high— hot enough to ignite and burn several nearby apartment buildings. Last year, five were killed in Allentown, PA when a gas explosion flattened a rowhouse neighborhood, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. It took workers another five hours to figure out how to shut off the gas flow.
One of our concerns with the Pacific Connector pipeline is that the safety regulations are even weaker in rural areas than in populated neighborhoods, so families living along the Pacific Connector pipeline are at even greater risk. Getting blown up isn’t usually on our safety list when hiking and camping in wild lands, but the pipeline would make that risk real. In 2000, 12 campers were killed by a gas pipeline explosion near Carlsbad, NM.
These aren’t isolated examples. Leaks and explosions on this sort of pipeline are disturbingly common. In an average year, looking only at gas transmission pipelines (which is what Williams proposes), there are 113 reported incidents causing 2 fatalities, eleven injuries, and over $132 million in property damage. (Source: PHMSA http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/safety/AllPSI.html?nocache=1948#_ngtrans)
Oil and gas companies are fond of touting a “safety first” mentality. This is not just propaganda spin. Give credit where it’s due: they really do devote immense energy to safety, and their engineering know-how is breathtaking.
The trouble is there are so many things that can go wrong. Pipes corrode. Valves leak and get stuck. Unknowing construction workers dig into unmarked pipelines. People make mistakes. Equipment fails. Earthquakes and floods happen. There are a thousand and one things that can go wrong, any one of which can kill you.
While one should give the industry credit for taking the engineering aspects of safety very seriously, their record on risk management and public process is dastardly. They are secretive, competitive, and selfish. They make the same “mistakes,” over and over again.
After the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery, which killed fifteen, a blue-ribbon panel was formed to investigate, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker. The panel’s recommendations centered on what they termed a “safety culture” and “process safety.” Details quickly get complicated, but the underlying notion is simple: when trying to make complex industrial systems safe, you need to analyze and address the whole ball of wax, not just this and that component.
After the 2010 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon, another blue-ribbon panel was formed. Their conclusions were damning. Process safety and safety culture were still not being implemented. And, the Commission found, these problems were not unique to BP, but endemic in the oil & gas industry.
As we look at the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG terminal, familiar warning signs are everywhere. I’ll leave you with just one example. As Cascadia’s staff digs into the details, we have hit a roadblock. The company won’t share its maps, even with landowners along the proposed route. Their excuse is the preposterous claim that exact locations of the proposed line must be kept secret, to keep it out of the hands of would-be terrorists.
That’s hogwash. Fundamental to pipeline safety and planning is everyone needs to know where, exactly, the line is. This information is needed whenever anyone digs a hole, whenever there is a leak that needs to be investigated, whenever a wildfire fighting crew is planning their attack on a blaze. You need to plan to avoid flooding streams, landslide areas, and places planned for other kinds of construction. You need to site the line to allow regular access for maintenance and surveillance.
Terrorism IS a real fear. But hiding maps from landowners does nothing to prevent it. Far from requiring gas pipeline locations be kept secret (as if that were even possible), federal regulations require gas pipelines be clearly marked with bright yellow signs.
The supposed security rationale is so absurd, so wrong-headed, that it calls into question the company’s basic trustworthiness. It suggests that Williams views this as their project, none of anyone’s business. That’s a pretty arrogant line to take when you’re forcibly appropriating other people’s private land through eminent domain.
Far from putting safety first, indications are Williams is putting it’s own pocketbook first, last, and in the middle. That’s not just selfish. It’s also very, very dangerous.
Please join Cascadia Wildlands in sending the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a message on the Pacific Connector Pipeline. Click here to comment and do not be concerned when you get a message from FERC that your comment may not be considered. We will make sure that your support of our concerns and any additional comments you provide will go to the appropriate place and be heard. They will get our collective message.