PHMSA Says Leach XPress Still in Danger, Issues 13-Pt To-do List

Earlier this week MDN told you that TransCanada’s Leach XPress, a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle, was back online after experiencing an explosion in early June in Marshall County, WV (see Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion). The investigation into why it exploded found the reason to be a “land slip” (i.e. landslide). Disturbingly, Columbia (the division of TransCanada that built and operates Leach XPress) told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which investigates these kinds of incidents, there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips. Not good. Just coming to light now–on July 9, PHMSA issued a list of 13 to-dos or “corrective actions” that Columbia must perform if it wants to keep Leach XPress up and running. We have the to-do list below…
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Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). What caused the explosion? TransCanada (aka Columbia Pipeline) said it was a “slip”–what we call a landslide (see Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV). The good news is that the 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline is now fully fixed and back online, as of Sunday, although it’s not yet flowing at full capacity. According to Genscape, pipeline “nominations” (reservations to move gas) were at 1.15 Bcf yesterday. That will likely increase in the coming days, back to full capacity. One comment about this story caught our eye–something we’d not seen or heard before: Columbia told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips (i.e. landslides)…
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Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online by “mid-July” (see Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July). What caused the explosion? That’s been the burning question (no pun intended) since it happened. A stray comment we spotted seemed to indicate it may have been a faulty welding job. But apparently such is not the case. Columbia has told federal regulators that a landslide is the cause of the leak and explosion…
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Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July

Leach XPress Pipeline explosion/fire on June 7

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Still no word on what caused the explosion, although the investigation seems to be centered on a welded seam. TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online. The company told shippers in mid-June they expected to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July” (see TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July). That’s not going to happen since it’s now early July. Last Friday, Columbia pushed back the date to “mid-July,” due to challenges in getting everything remediated and fixed because of heavy rain in the area. Meanwhile, the drillers using Leach continue to find other ways to get their gas to market…
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TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working feverishly to get the pipeline back online. As of last Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was back up and flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day (see Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion). The company told shippers earlier this week they expect to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July.” Still no word on what caused the explosion, although a stray comment we read leads us to speculate…
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TransCanada Bringing More W Canada Gas East to Compete with M-U

TransCanada, one of Canada’s leading midstream/pipeline companies, cooked up a deal in 2016 to pipe natural gas from Canada’s West Coast to the East Coast in order to fend off cheap supplies of Marcellus/Utica gas that will flow into Canada from the NEXUS and Rover pipelines (see TransCanada Pipe Drops Price 42% to Compete with Marcellus/Utica). TransCanada dropped their pipeline price to lure drillers by (theoretically) making it less expensive to get gas from Western Canada, some 2,400 miles away, than from the Marcellus, just 400 miles away. Following a couple of open seasons and stiff regulatory hurdles, the plan was adopted and went into service last November (see TransCanada Pipe Begins Lowball Shipping to Compete with Marc/Utica). In February, TransCanada announced a $1.9 billion plan to expand its Western Canadian pipeline system in a bid to gather up and send even more Western Canadian gas to the East Coast–to compete with our gas (see TransCanada Spending $1.9B to Bring More Canadian Gas to Northeast). The expansion plan calls for an additional 1 billion cubic feet per day of gas to flow through the Nova Gas Transmission Line (NGTL) in Western Canada, which in turn connects to TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline that hauls gas to our region. The new news is that TransCanada has done it yet again. They’ve cut agreements with shippers for another 280 million cubic feet per day of natgas on the NGTL system…
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Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion

Leach XPress explosion location – click for larger version

Last Thursday MDN reported that TransCanada was working to restore partial service to the Leach XPress Pipeline (see TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe). Leach XPress only came online in January. The pipeline experienced an explosion and fire on June 7 (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline was stopped. As of Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was once again flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day. Which means Monroe and Belmont counties (OH) are now reconnected and flowing. As for the rest of the pipeline and its various metering stations, it’s all still shut down with no word on when it will be repaired and back online. There’s still no word on what caused the explosion in the first place…
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TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe

We told you last week that Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline, which only came online in January, experienced an explosion and fire in Marshall County, WV (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline is now stopped, which has caused shippers (drillers) to find alternatives, including Energy Transfer’s Rover, Tallgrass’ Rockies Express (REX), EQT’s Equitrans, and Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines to flow gas out of the region (see Other Pipelines Pick Up Slack for Exploded Leach XPress). Although a fix for the exploded portion of Leach XPress is likely months away, TransCanada, the owner of Columbia and the Leach pipeline, is working on a plan to quickly restore part of the pipeline to service in southeastern Ohio–which would reconnect Monroe and Belmont counties to the pipeline…
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Other Pipelines Pick Up Slack for Exploded Leach XPress

Leach XPress fire

As we told you last week, Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline, which only came online in January, experienced an explosion and fire in Marshall County, WV last Thursday (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). It’s early days yet, but so far, no word on what may have caused the explosion and resulting fire. The problem is that most (if not all) of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline is now stopped. What do shippers do? They find alternatives. And so they have. A Reuters article reports that shippers have cut deals with Energy Transfer’s Rover, Tallgrass’ Rockies Express (REX), EQT’s Equitrans, and Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines to flow their gas out of the region. Below is the article highlighting the alternate routes shippers are using, along a second article speculating (in the absence of any hard facts) about what may have caused the explosion…
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Columbia Sues WV Landowners for Delaying Mountaineer XPress Work

It’s one thing for a landowner (or Big Green supporter, sometimes one and the same) to oppose a pipeline project by protesting, asking politicians to get involved, writing to regulatory agencies, etc. We have a great American tradition of free speech. Go for it. But it’s quite another thing to “harass, intimidate and interfere” with work crews in an area by screaming at them and shooting your “large caliber gun” near where they’re working. Columbia Gas Transmission is currently building the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline, a $2 billion, 170-mile pipeline that will flow 2.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of natural gas from existing and future points of receipt along or near the Columbia pipeline system–most of it located in West Virginia (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). At 2.7 Bcf/d, Mountaineer XPress is the second largest (by volume) new pipeline project for the Marcellus/Utica region–second only to Rover’s 3.25 Bcf/d pipeline. It is a big and important project. And yet, a single couple whose land the pipeline does NOT cross can delay the entire project with threats and intimidation and interference. That’s the charge Columbia has made in court. On April 30, Columbia sued a couple in Doddridge County who live near an active construction site for Mountaineer XPress, claiming their hostile actions toward workers have caused a delay for the entire project–and that’s costing Columbia big bucks. Columbia wants to ask a jury to extract some of that lost revenue from the hostile couple as compensation. Lesson: Your (hostile, threatening) actions have consequences, and may cost you money…
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Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV

Click image for larger version

This is not the kind of news we like to share–but it’s important. A newly installed pipeline–that went online in January–experienced an explosion and huge fireball, in Marshall County, WV. TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name), went online January 1st (see Leach XPress Goes Online; FERC Approves Mountaineer & Gulf XPress). Leach XPress is part of the Columbia Gas Transmission system. From Leach, KY, the gas hitches a ride on TransCanada’s Rayne XPress pipeline to the South and Gulf Coast. A portion of Leach XPress, this brand new, “best-in-class” pipeline (so said TransCanada’s CEO in January), exploded and caught fire at 4:15 am yesterday in Moundsville (Marshall County), WV, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. Fortunately no one was injured. Some nearby residents fled their homes. Most of the pipeline is now shut down, curtailing 1.3 Bcf/d (out of the 1.5 Bcf/d) of gas volumes “indefinitely.” Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the accident…
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TransCanada Pipe Construction Crew Helps Locate Missing WV Boy

Little boy who went missing in WV

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Last Monday afternoon a three year-old boy wandered into the woods near his home in Jackson County, WV and got lost. The parents could not find him. WV State Police and several local fire departments aided in a search effort, canvasing the woods. TransCanada is building the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline project several miles from where the toddler went missing. Upon hearing of the missing boy, the people in charge of the project flew into action, delivering supplies and port-a-potties to the searchers. They also provided maps of the area made by TransCanada–maps which ended up being instrumental in finding the boy. Some 15 hours after he went missing, on Tuesday morning, he was found–safe and sound. Authorities credit TransCanada as being instrumental in the process. TransCanada’s people didn’t do it for accolades. They did it because it was the right thing to do–even though it delayed the project and cost the company money. This episode paints a far different picture of pipeline companies than you typically hear about, does it not? Pipeline companies are not the heartless, “damn the environment and everyone who lives in the path of the pipeline” meme antis feed to sycophantic “reporters” in mainstream media. Quite the opposite. These are people who care about the work they do, and how it impacts the people where they do it. They care about the communities in which they work–and live…
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TransCanada Asks FERC to Expand Capacity on New England Pipe

TransCanada is attempting to do what so far, no one else has been able to accomplish: Increase flows of Marcellus/Utica (and perhaps other basin) gas into New England. The way they’re doing it is via the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), a 295-mile pipeline that spans New England from the Canadian border to pipeline connections in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. No, TransCanada is not proposing to build any new pipeline as part of their plan. In fact there is no construction of any kind for phases I and II in what TransCanada is calling its Portland XPress Project (PXP). Phase I, which TransCanada filed on April 20, asked FERC for permission to begin flowing an extra 39.8 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas from Pittsburg, NH, to Westbrook, ME, and to increase the flow from and to Canada. In Phase II, which was filed yesterday, TransCanada asked FERC for permission to flow an extra 11.3 MMcf from Westbrook, ME, to Dracut, MA. When the filing for Phase III comes along, they will ask to build a new compressor station, among other bits and bobs. New England and Atlantic Canada desperately need the gas, so there’s no reason why FERC would deny these reasonable requests. Perhaps TransCanada can succeed where Kinder Morgan’s TGP Northeast Energy Direct and Spectra Energy’s Access Northeast projects failed, and boldly go where no pipeline has gone before…
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Columbia Asks FERC to Approve OH/WV Buckeye XPress Pipe Project

Buckeye XPress Pipeline map – click for larger version

In January 2017, TransCanada’s Columbia Pipeline subsidiary launched an open season for the Buckeye XPress (BXP) pipeline project (see Columbia Pipeline Launches Open Season for New M-U Project). BXP will expand service along the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline from Ohio (and PA and WV) to send even more Marcellus/Utica gas to the Gulf via the interconnection at Leach, Kentucky. Columbia launched a non-binding open season to gauge interest in the project, which will use looping and beefed up compressor stations to increase capacity another 700 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day along the existing pipeline Columbia pipeline system. The open season (time when shippers express interest and sign contracts) was a success. But these things take time. On March 26, a year and two full months after the open season, Columbia filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking permission to build the project. The project includes building 66 miles of new pipeline to replace old pipeline in Ohio’s Vinton, Jackson, Gallia and Lawrence counties, as well as pipeline replacement in West Virginia’s Wayne County. Below is the lowdown on the BXP application…
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Maryland Antis Oppose 13th Pipeline Under Potomac as “Dangerous”

Anti fossil fuel nutters have been on a holy mission to stop a 3.5-mile, 8″ pipeline from being installed under the Potomac River since last summer (see Mountaineer Pipeline Under Potomac Latest Focus of Anti Movement). To hear them talk, you’d think this is the first time a pipeline has been drilled under the Potomac River–that drilling and installing a pipeline under the Potomac will result in an environmental holocaust. However, TransCanada, via its Columbia Pipeline subsidiary, has already built and operates 12 other pipelines that go under the Potomac River–just in the State of Maryland! Yet the president of the Washington County (MD) Board of County Commissioners, Terry Baker, says “the dangers are high” and “real” if this, the 13th pipeline, gets installed. Why, Mr. Baker, are the dangers “high” and “real” now–but they weren’t high and real the 12 other times a pipeline was installed under the river?…
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TransCanada Spending $1.9B to Bring More Canadian Gas to Northeast

TransCanada, one of Canada’s leading midstream/pipeline companies, cooked up a deal in 2016 to pipe natural gas from Canada’s West Coast to the East Coast in order to fend off cheap supplies of Marcellus/Utica gas that will flow into Canada from the NEXUS and Rover pipelines (see TransCanada Pipe Drops Price 42% to Compete with Marcellus/Utica). TransCanada dropped their pipeline price to lure drillers by (theoretically) making it less expensive to get gas from Western Canada, some 2,400 miles away, than from the Marcellus, just 400 miles away. Following a couple of open seasons and stiff regulatory hurdles, the plan was adopted and went into service last November (see TransCanada Pipe Begins Lowball Shipping to Compete with Marc/Utica). Last week TransCanada announced a $1.9 billion plan to expand its Western Canadian pipeline system in a bid to gather up and send even more Western Canadian gas to the East Coast–to compete with the Marcellus/Utica…
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