natural gas

Robert Carpenter, Editor

As last summer’s drought conditions wore on, I learned that there is a condition even worse than “extreme.” There is an “exceptional” drought category, which essentially means “pending devastation if you don’t get rain fast.” The impact of this drought, when finally broken, will be felt for years.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

The One-Call and excavation damage provisions included in the new pipeline safety bill passed by Congress in December will trigger a number of state and federal responses in 2012. However, a rule allowing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to impose civil penalties on excavators -- ordered by the 2006 pipeline safety bill but never finalized -- would be even more significant. A proposed rule moving that requirement forward is expected this year, finally, perhaps as early as this winter.

A Pennsylvania regulation became law in August that will help prevent the discharge of incompletely treated frac water from natural gas drilling into area rivers. Altela Inc., a water treatment company based in Albuquerque, NM, has begun implementation of the solution to the frac water problem at a plant in Williamsport by treating 100,000 gallons a day of frac water to better than drinking water standards.

Two House committees are attempting to combine slightly different pipeline safety bills while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is preventing a Senate vote on a bill passed by the Commerce Committee last May. All three bills are moderate, and make changes around the edges of current law, both with regard to natural gas and oil pipelines.

In an effort to learn continually from other operators and to improve North America’s pipeline system safety, the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, together with the Canadian Gas Association and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, have initiated a comprehensive study to explore safety models and procedures currently utilized by other industry sectors in an effort to deliver natural gas and pipeline-transported liquids more safely and reliably.

Branson is a popular Southwestern Missouri family vacation center, home to Silver Dollar City, hotels, fine restaurants, more than 50 live performance centers, a dozen championship golf courses and a host of other attractions. Yet city homes and businesses are just now being connected to natural gas.

The pipeline safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Aug. 30 puts significant pressure on both Congress and the Obama administration to respond to the problems discovered as part of the NTSB investigation of the PG&E San Bruno explosion in December 2010.

Meritage Midstream Services LLC is planning to build a new rich gas gathering system in Webb County, TX. Escondido Resources II LLC will serve as the system’s anchor tenant and will have firm capacity on Meritage’s existing Eagle Ford Escondido Gathering System to move its Eagle Ford volumes.

Challenging underground projects attract interest -- contractors who complete difficult jobs like to talk about them and manufacturers of equipment used are quick to tout the capabilities of their products.

On Aug. 30, the National Transportation Safety Board issued its final report on the fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA, that occurred on Sept. 9, 2010. The report named Pacific Gas & Electric's "lax approach to pipeline safety" and the failure of overseeing bodies to check that approach as the main factors in a preventable accident.

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