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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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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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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CIG Logistics Buys Sand Transload Terminal in WV from US Silica

CIG Logistics is a company in the business of moving sand used in fracking from point A to point B. CIG owns and operates a series of transloading terminals, along with trucks to deliver sand to well sites. A transloading terminal is a place where sand arrives via one form of transportation, say on a rail car, and leaves via another form of transportation, like a truck. U.S. Silica is the country’s largest sand producer. U.S. Silica also owns some of its own transloading terminals. CIG announced yesterday it has cut a deal to buy three U.S. Silica transloading facilities–two in Texas and one in the Marcellus, in Marshall County, West Virginia. CIG claims that with this deal they have become the “preferred transload provider to U.S. Silica” in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford in Texas, and the Marcellus Shale via the facility in WV. Terms of the deal were not disclosed…
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WV’s Northern Panhandle Sits in the Shale Catbird Seat

The Northern Panhandle of West Virginia is doubly blessed. The Panhandle is four counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall. Some add a fifth–Wetzel County. The first four counties in the list sit in a slice of real estate located between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Panhandle currently produces 38% of WV’s natural gas production, and nearly 70% of its oil production. That’s the first blessing–good rock sits under those counties. The second blessing is the panhandle’s location between PA and OH. On one side, sitting just a few minutes away, is the mighty Shell ethane cracker plant, currently under construction in Monaca (Beaver County, PA). On the other side, also just a few minutes away, sits the proposed PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker site in Dilles Bottom (Belmont County, OH). The second blessing is this: many petrochemical and manufacturing companies will build, even relocate, their operations to take advantage of the raw materials that will come from both cracker plants. And guess where many of them will choose to locate? Yep–right smack in the middle, which is where the Northern Panhandle happens to be–sitting in the catbird seat…
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Fire at EQT Well Pad in Marshall County, WV

Yesterday, gas processing equipment at a Trans Energy well pad (now owned by EQT) in Marshall County, WV caught fire. The important things to know: (1) The fire was quickly extinguished, (2) nobody was injured, (3) this was not a well fire and was not related to drilling or fracking. There is a single operating Marcellus well at that location–drilled back in 2011. The well has been producing natural gas and other hydrocarbons since that time. As is common, some of the hydrocarbons (like condensate) are separated right at the well location, by equipment located near the pad. The fire began in that processing equipment. No residents were evacuated and the fire was out within a few hours. However, workers at the nearby Williams Fort Beeler natural gas processing plant were evacuated for a brief time, out of “an abundance of caution”…
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FERC Allows Rover to Use HDD in 4 More Locations, Incl Ohio River

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Thursday granted Rover Pipeline permission to resume horizontal directional drilling (HDD) at four more locations where it had been stopped. One of those locations is drilling under the Ohio River in the Majorsville area. Rover is a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that (will eventually) run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada. A large portion of the pipeline began flowing natural gas on Sept. 1st (see Big Portion of Rover Pipeline Now Up & Running – Thru Most of Ohio). Since then, Phase 1A of the pipeline has steadily increased its throughput and now flows over 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Utica/Marcellus Shale gas to Defiance, OH (see Rover Pipe Nearly Doubles Flow with Addition of Carroll, OH Compressor). However, it could flow more, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would allow Rover to finish Phase 1B pipeline work in OH/WV to feed more gas to the main part of the pipeline. The problem is that Rover had early missteps, the most serious of which spilled 2 million gallons of non-toxic drilling mud in a swamp (i.e. “wetland”) near the Tuscarawas River back in April (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Following that and several other mishaps, FERC shut down all Rover HDD work–for months. Gradually FERC has allowed Rover to resume HDD work, and with this latest round of four more HDD locations, it appears to us that only two HDD locations remain on the “do not drill yet” list, one of them being the Tuscarawas River location…
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Tiny Houses: Answer to Affordable Housing in Active M-U Area?

We have to confess this story is purely for amusement purposes–ours and yours. In our daily trawl of the news related to “Marcellus Shale” we spotted this headline: “Group hopes to add tiny houses to Wheeling Island.” We thought, What in the world do tiny houses on Wheeling Island (Wheeling, WV) have to do with the Marcellus? So we read the article to find out. Anyone watching HGTV has, at one point or another, watched a program about “tiny houses.” There’s even an HGTV show called Tiny House Hunters. “Tiny houses” are actual stick-built homes that are under 500 square feet of living space. Think really-small efficiency apartment. Except it’s a real house–sort of. The average American home is 1,780 square feet of living space. (If you’re not familiar with the tiny house movement, read this Wikipedia entry.) So what do tiny houses in Wheeling, WV have to do with the Marcellus? A group in Wheeling believes tiny houses on Wheeling Island is a viable solution for affordable housing. You see, the Marcellus/Utica has successfully employed a lot of people in the region–and a lot of new people have moved in, sopping up available apartments, homes, and trailers. There’s a bit of a housing shortage due to an abundance of Marcellus workers. The group in Wheeling thinks they have the solution: sell a bunch of tiny houses on Wheeling Island…
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Southwestern Energy Offers $5/Acre for Seismic Testing in WV

In 2014, Southwestern Energy cut a massive deal to buy 413,000 Marcellus/Utica acres from Chesapeake Energy, most of it in northern West Virginia, for $5.375 billion (see Chesapeake Sells Close to 25% of Marcellus/Utica Operation). Southwestern has done some drilling on that acreage since, but all the signs are now visible that the company intends to really ramp up their WV drilling program. In August, Southwestern nailed down some missing acreage in the Wheeling area by leasing 66 acres from the Wheeling Park School District for $231,000 (see Wheeling Park HS Signs Lease with Southwestern for $3500/Acre). Just last week we reported that midstream giant Williams has cut a deal with Southwestern to provide gathering and processing for over 200,000 acres in Marshall and Wetzel counties (see Williams Launches Major WV Expansion to Serve Southwestern Energy). And now, further evidence: A contractor working for Southwestern plans to begin seismic testing covering 260 square miles–stretching from Donegal (Westmoreland County), PA through northern WV all the way to Shadyside (Belmont County), OH–next year. The contractor, in speaking with members of the Bethlehem Village Council (Wheeling, WV area), said Southwestern is offering the “standard” price of $5 per acre for seismic testing…
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Williams Launches Major WV Expansion to Serve Southwestern Energy

Yesterday Williams announced a new, major deal with Southwestern Energy to expand its network of gathering pipelines and processing facilities in West Virginia, to serve Southwestern’s increasingly aggressive drilling program in the state. Williams will expand its its Oak Grove processing plant to handle extra wet gas that will flow into it from Southwestern’s 135,000-acre wet gas (i.e. NGL) drilling program in Marshall and Wetzel counties. Southwestern targets wet gas in the Marcellus and Upper Devonian in those two counties. The expansion will give the Oak Grove plant the capability to process an additional 1.8 billion cubic feet per day of wet gas. But wet gas isn’t the only focus. Williams is also expanding its pipeline network to an additional 71,500 dry gas acres, again in Marshall and Wetzel counties, targeting Southwestern’s dry gas Utica program. In the same announcement, almost as an afterthought (but for us is a really big deal), Williams announced it will connect its system to Columbia Pipeline’s (now TransCanada) Leach XPress and Mountaineer XPress pipelines, “to boost market access and diversify gas pricing opportunities.” Leach XPress, which is part of a project including Rayne XPress, will send gas all the way to the Gulf Coast (see Columbia Gas: $1.75B for 2 Projects to Send Marcellus Gas to Gulf). Leach XPress began construction earlier this year. Mountaineer XPress will send gas to Leach, Kentucky (as will Leach Xpress), and from there on to a variety of other markets in the Midwest and South–as well as the Gulf Coast (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). Mountaineer Xpress received a favorable final environmental impact state from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July of this year, but is still waiting on other permits before it begins construction. Here’s the news about Williams expanding in the Mountain State…
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WV Northern Panhandle Sees Econ Revival with Nearby Cracker Proj

It seems the northern panhandle area of West Virginia is sitting in the catbird seat. The geography of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties sits in between Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA on one side, and the proposed PTT Global Chemical cracker plant in Belmont County, OH on the other side. The PTT plant is not yet official, but is certainly looking that way. The next “gold rush” for states including PA, OH and WV are manufacturing plants that use the output from the cracker plants. And the northern panhandle, being between both locations, is getting a lot of interest and attention…
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