New York State neglects natural gas infrastructure, now pays the price

A recent op-ed featured in the Wall Street Journal serves as an important warning of the costs accrued from stonewalling energy production and neglecting energy infrastructure projects.

New York State, which consists of part of the Marcellus Shale formation, is now facing potential energy shortages as a symptom of policies intended to neglect homegrown energy. A recent announcement from Consolidated Edison, a New York City energy utility provider, closed applications for natural gas connections beginning in mid-March. The decision comes on the back of policy prescriptions from the state’s Governor.

Though one company’s announcement may seem inconsequential neglecting the natural gas industry has had noticeable consequences for the state’s economy.

New Yorker drillers produced some 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day in 2008. Since then natural gas production in the state has dropped so drastically because of policymakers actions that the Energy Information Administration – a government energy oversight agency – has stopped reporting the state’s natural gas production.

Diminished natural gas production has its costs. Not only is the state facing an energy shortage but two-thirds of natural gas consumed in New York is produced in Pennsylvania which employees 106,000 in the industry in Pennsylvania creating $247 million in gas related fees for the state’s government.

Let New York State serve as an example of the costs of neglecting energy infrastructure. Natural gas brings visible benefits to communities by creating jobs, tax revenue, and contributing to the nation’s growing energy sector. Pennsylvania must continue to pave the way for natural gas.

Local Media Trust Ideologue – Not Expert – With Geological Advice

News of a small sinkhole in West Whiteland Township in Chester County has captured the attention of local residents and media throughout southeast Pennsylvania though mostly as an opportunity to disparage the Mariner East 1 and 2 projects.

In an article titled “Another sinkhole appears in Chester County neighborhood, exposing Mariner East pipeline” The Inquirer incorporated a number of perspectives for insight, though some sources seem more questionable than others.

Energy Transfer, the parent company for Mariner East 1 and 2, released the following statement that was circulated in the article “We are working in coordination with the Pennsylvania PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement and its consultants to perform activities to ensure the area remains stable. It is too early to know additional details at this time.”

Additionally the Bureau of Investigation concluded that “No injuries were reported, no one was evacuated, public safety was not affected, and the pipeline was not damaged,”

Eric Friedman, spokesman for local pipeline opposition group Del – Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, was quoted calling the land’s geological makeup “unstable.” Friedman mistakenly conflates “topography” and “geology,” specifically the “karst topography” that exists in Southeast Pennsylvania.

A layman passing as technical experts as Mr. Friedman continually does, are not credible sources of information. Mr. Friedman’s preference is more to muddy the water and spread faulty information, which does the community a disservice. Public safety is the top priority of infrastructure developers, regulators, and local communities alike and always will be.

West Goshen Risk Assessment Breakdown PT. 2

Following yesterday’s blog  discussing the outstanding safety and quality of the 12 inch supplemental line temporarily being used to transport natural gas liquids through West Goshen Township focus will be turned to the emergency preparedness Sunoco has committed to in West Goshen and throughout the Mariner East pipeline project.

For those that missed part one, Richard Kuprewicz, President of Accufacts, found that “Sunoco meets and exceeds the requirements of federal pipeline safety regulations. These additional precautions reflect the level of respect that transporting such materials in a HCA should require in a prudent pipeline operation. Accufacts thus concludes that the 12-inch Repurpose Project spanning WGT meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.” After reviewing information provided by Sunoco.

Regulatory Oversight:

Pipeline operators and builders are subject to strict regulation. Federal and state entities oversee the construction and operation.

At the federal level the Department of Transportation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA, a subsection of the Department of Transportation dedicated to pipelines). These agencies ensure interstate pipelines meet all national standards that they themselves set.

As determined by the Pennsylvania legislature, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is responsible for directing and enforcing safety standards for “pipeline facilities and to regulate safety practices of certificated utilities engaged in the transportation of natural gas and other gas by pipeline.”

The combination of federal and state oversight creates a network of pipeline experts that work together to ensure pipeline companies are held to and encouraged to surpass the highest standard of safety.

Compliance in West Goshen:

After review Kuprewicz found that Sunoco prepared the 12 inch supplemental line in complete compliance with federal and state regulations. This includes installing automatic valve shuts offs, as well as remote and manual capabilities.

Kuprewicz continued, offered: “Since it had been some time since I had reviewed this system, this was discussed in detail with Sunoco as it relates to the 12inch project.  It is my opinion that Sunoco has provided prudent design and installation of safety equipment to assure timely and automatic system shutdown.  The control room operator can also manually initiate an automatic shutdown of the pipeline system at any time.

It is obvious that Sunoco has incorporated layers of protection into their pipeline systems, especially the Mariner East project. The supplemental line benefits from mechanical capabilities as well as human monitoring and input in the unlikely case it be needed.

Like the official Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2 pipelines the West Goshen supplemental line makes use of the same computer monitoring system that continuously checks for leaks. For maximum safety “The computer system when triggered can automatically and quickly shut down pumps and close mainline isolation valves.  As in the previous Mariner East projects, an independent non-automatic additional leak detection system will be employed across the 12-inch pipeline intended to assist control room personnel in identifying possible lower rate pipeline releases, who then can intervene to initiate pipeline shutdown and isolation.

Conclusion:

Though the Accufacts study focuses on the supplemental line in West Gosh Township the safety measured shared with what will be a temporary line in the Mariner East pipeline system shows the diligence and attention to detail Sunoco has committed to throughout the project to maximize public safety. This fact should not be overlooked.

West Goshen Risk Assessment Breakdown Pt. 1

A risk assessment conducted by Accufacts Inc., using industry sensitive information from Sunoco, was recently released and presented to the public. The study specifically evaluated potential risk from the 12-inch supplemental line being used to move natural gas liquids eastward between portions of Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X through West Goshen Township.

The assessment found: “As discussed further below, the 12-inch pipeline meets or exceeds federal pipeline safety regulations for HVL liquid transmission pipeline service.” Reiterating what Sunoco and Energy Transfer have long guaranteed about their natural gas pipelines.

Methodology:

Accufacts specializes in technical and safety evaluation and planning for pipeline siting, design, operation, maintenance, emergency response, and regulatory requirements. The firm has previously been retained to conduct risk assessments in Pennsylvania. Accufacts worked alongside the West Goshen Township legal team and Sunoco to draw up a Nondisclosure Agreement so that corporate specifics about the pipeline could be accounted for in their study. Accufacts admitted that pipeline differences such as diameter factor into risk and deemed industry specifics necessary to complete a thorough assessment.

Supplemental Line Facts:

  • 24 miles of an existing 12-inch line will be used to interconnect a western portion of ME 2 and an eastern segment of ME 2X, which is 16 inches in diameter.
  • End destination is the Sunoco Marcus Hook facility
  • The supplemental line does not use any pump stations
  • Will carry 150 to 160 MB/D of butane or propane liquids

Pipeline Integrity and Safety Measures:

Accufacts notes that though the pipeline was installed in 1937 of seamless Grade B steel the risk of cracking or a loss of pipeline integrity is overstated. In fact, the report provides the following: “As mentioned in previous reports, pipe steel, even pipe steel manufactured over 80 years ago, does not age or wear out like some older materials such as cast or wrought iron that can be “age” sensitive. Pipe steel has essentially an infinite life if properly maintained and operated within its design parameters, and periodically assessed as to its integrity.

Pipe age is a poor risk predictor and many of the nation’s older pipes are more resilient to hydrostatic testing because of safety factors during manufacturing.

Accufacts concluded that Sunoco went above and beyond the standard safety measures required by state and federal regulators through the use of hydrostatic testing and ‘smart pigs’ – devices used to scan the integrity of the inside of pipelines. Additionally, another round of hydrostatic and ‘smart pig’ tests were run for added certainty.

As an added layer of security Sunoco has agreed to convert the manual valve station controlling the supplemental line to be compatible with remote functions and like Mariner East 1 and 2 an automatic pipeline shutdown feature has been incorporated. All of these measures sum to show the township, and broader state of Pennsylvania, that safety and security are the top priority.

Conclusion:

Richard Kuprewicz, the President of Accufacts, signed off on the report officially determining the supplemental line through West Goshen Township to be safe and that “Sunoco meets and exceeds the requirements of federal pipeline safety regulations. These additional precautions reflect the level of respect that transporting such materials in a HCA should require in a prudent pipeline operation. Accufacts thus concludes that the 12-inch Repurpose Project spanning WGT meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.

Letter to the editor: Pipelines are key to realizing Pennsylvania’s full benefits

James T. Kunz Jr. |  Tribune Review

Pipelines must adhere to strict state and federal regulation throughout construction, testing and infrastructure replacement to ensure system integrity. According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the natural gas delivery system is the safest form of energy delivery in the country.

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LETTER Our communities need pipelines

Mike Butler | The Observer-Reporter

Following the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the Washington County Chamber of Commerce’s recent conference, it was encouraging to see the Observer-Reporter’s coverage on the tremendous economic opportunities that our state’s shale gas provides, and the critical next steps that need to be taken to ensure that Pennsylvanians can fully realize these benefits.

Report confirms benefits of clean-burning natural gas | PennLive letters

Mike Butler |  Penn Live

A University of Pennsylvania Kleinman Center for Energy Policy report confirmed what the natural gas industry has known for years: Clean-burning natural gas has been a godsend for Pennsylvania energy consumers. The report found that natural gas over the past decade has allowed Pennsylvanians to enjoy significant cost reductions versus the national average. This is a stark change from more than a decade ago, when the state was notorious for having higher energy prices than the rest of the country.

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Guest Column: It’s time for Pa. to ‘energize’ its infrastructure

Charlie Melancon | The Delaware County Daily Times

Many years ago there was a saying in the Gulf Coast oil patch that went, “let the Yankees freeze to death in the dark.” That saying had everything to do with Gulf coastal states producing oil and gas and shipping it to the northern tier of states and with interstate pipeline laws in effect, at a cheaper price than was available to our utility companies in the producing states. The pipelines were built to get the much-needed product to those areas that were in need but without the resource. But that has changed.

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Heading downstream: MSC president updates natural gas industry activity

Michael Bradwell | The Observer-Reporter

The president of Marcellus Shale Coalition said Tuesday the natural gas industry is moving to a new phase that seeks to develop new markets for the abundant natural gas now being extracted from the region. David Spigelmyer recalled an ad campaign several years ago by Range Resources that had a tagline of “Drilling is just the beginning.”

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