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Many Marion County residents are wondering whether the Bluegrass Pipeline project will be bringing natural gas liquids through the community. Meanwhile, another project could take advantage of a pipeline that's already here.
On Aug. 7, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., and MarkWest Utica EMG, L.L.C, announced a joint venture that includes converting 900 miles of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline to carry up to 200,000 barrels of natural gas liquids daily.
According to records in the Marion County Clerk's office, the Tennessee Gas Line has easements and right-of-ways across at least 18 properties in Marion County. Fifteen of those easements and right-of-ways were established between 1970 and 1972.
Tom FitzGerald, an attorney with the Kentucky Resources Council, encouraged anyone who has a right-of-way or easement on their property to review that agreement with an attorney.
FitzGerald said property owners need to know if their easement agreements allow Kinder Morgan to change the product that is flowing in the pipelines that cross their property.
He added that the fact that multiple companies are working to carry NGLs to the Gulf of Mexico raises other questions, such as whether Kentucky needs to establish regulations regarding NGLs.
“We could end up with both pipelines being built when we don't need both,” FitzGerald said.
To be clear, Kinder Morgan’s possible conversion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline could be a few years away, and the company’s ability to complete the conversion would depend on the success of a few other phases of the project.
“Our project is in the very early stages,” said Richard Wheatley, Kinder Morgan's director of corporate communications.
The first part of the project involves constructing two processing plants in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. According to the press release announcing the project, the goal is to have the first plant operating by the fourth quarter of 2014 and the second plant operating shortly thereafter. The next stage of the project would involve connecting the processing facility to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.
Today, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline is being used to deliver natural gas for energy to customers.
According to Wheatley, the fact that the pipeline already exists is an advantage for Kinder Morgan.
"We don't have to build new pipeline. It's in the ground. It's operational,” he said.
Wheatley added that the pipeline actually has multiple lines, and the plan would involve converting one line to carry NGLs such as ethane, propane, butane and possibly natural gasoline.
This is the same product that the Williams and Boardwalk Project Partners intend to transport through the Bluegrass Pipeline.
Before Kinder Morgan could convert the existing pipeline, it would have to receive permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to turn off a pipeline carrying natural gas. Part of what Kinder Morgan would have to prove is that shutting down one would not affect the customers who use that natural gas to meet their energy needs. Assuming they can prove that, then the natural gas flow would end along that one line.
At that point, Wheatley said Kinder Morgan would test the lines with water before running NGLs through the lines.
In order to complete their project, Kinder Morgan and MarkWest would need to build 200 miles of pipeline from the end of the Tennessee Gas Line in Natchitoches, La., to Mont Belvieu, Texas, south Louisiana or both places.
Kinder Morgan and MarkWest project they can have NGLs flowing through the Tennessee Gas Pipeline – and therefore through Marion County – by the fourth quarter of 2015 if they can get “sufficient shipper commitments, permitting and all related regulatory approvals,” according to the press release about the project.
Wheatley said Kinder Morgan monitors its pipeline 24 hours per day through centers in Alabama and Houston, Texas. He added that the company regularly inspects the lines along the right-of-way markers.
Bluegrass Pipeline meeting Aug. 22
A public informational meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at the St. Rose School to discuss the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline that is routed through parts of Washington, Nelson and Marion counties. Tom Fitzgerald, attorney with the Kentucky Resources Council, will be the guest speaker.