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Permian Basin natural gas pipeline goes into service, connects to markets on Gulf Coast

A major pipeline to transport natural gas out of the Permian Basin to market went into service at the start of 2021, as the fossil fuel markets continued to show gradual signs of recovery from an historic collapse last spring created by the COVID-19 health crisis.

The Permian Highway Pipeline, owned by Kinder Morgan, went into full service on Jan. 1, delivering natural gas from the Waha Hub on the Texas side of the Permian to Katy, Texas near Houston with connections to the refinery and export markets on the Gulf Coast.

The pipeline was in operation for several weeks ahead of full commercial service while capacity was being commissioned by shippers.

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Fully subscribed, the Permian Highway Pipeline brought about 2.1 billion cubic feet per day of transport capacity for natural gas, which could improve takeaway in the region – known as one the U.S.’ and the world’s most prolific shale plays – and see a reduction in releasing excess gas through venting or flaring.

Kinder Morga Natural Gas Midstream President Sital Mody said the project’s completion would provide an economic boon for Texas and the Permian Basin region which straddles West Texas and southeast New Mexico, as the basin continues to provide vast fossil fuel resources in the coming decades.

“We are extremely pleased to have placed (the Permian Highway Pipeline) in service. We are very proud of our team’s ability to execute and that we were able to complete this critical infrastructure project in the midst of a global pandemic,” Mody said.

“(Permian Highway Pipeline) will continue to provide environmental benefits and economic value to the State of Texas for many years to come.”

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He said once the COVID-19 health crisis subsides and the fossil fuel market stabilizes, the pipeline will allow the company and other operators to capitalize on any future booms in production.

“We believe that the Permian Basin will remain an important supply basin for decades, and our strong network of pipelines provides the ability to connect this supply to critical markets along the Gulf Coast,” Mody said.

Craig Stevens, spokesman for Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN), a national infrastructure development coalition including business leaders and trade associations, commended Kinder Morgan for completing the project and its ability to reduce the releases of natural gas.

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“The GAIN Coalition applauds Kinder Morgan for completing the Permian Highway Pipeline and investing in our nation’s energy future,” he said.

“This pipeline will be instrumental in helping to meet Texas’s goals of reducing flaring and increasing consumer access to reliable, affordable domestically-produced natural gas, all while bolstering American national and economic security.”

But the project wasn’t without controversy as 430-mile pipeline was built, running through Texas Hill Country and spilling 36,000 gallons of drilling fluid in the Blanco River.

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Local leaders and landowners in Hays County opposed the project and it was rerouted around the area. Music stars Willie Nelson and Paul Simon also voiced opposition to the project in a Houston Chronicle editorial.

On Monday, the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA), a regional environmental group, announced it settled a lawsuit with Kinder Morgan to move the pipeline route about two miles to avoid crossing the Blanco River and that it would only use dry bore drilling methods were allowed along the line to avoid damage to porous limestone in the area.

“We decided to settle because we believed we had realized all the positive results we could obtain,” read a statement from TESPA. “As a result of the resolution of the TESPA lawsuit against Kinder Morgan/Permian Highway Pipeline, a number of notable accomplishments were obtained.”

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Concerns for the safety of the pipeline remained despite the reroute, as environmentalists worried Kinder Morgan had shown an inability to build and operate safely.

“After multiple accidents and spills, Kinder Morgan is picking up and trying to build along a new route, leaving an enormous amount of damage in its wake and putting a whole new group of landowners at risk,” said Sierra Club Campaign Representative Roddy Hughes.

“Kinder Morgan has made it clear that, regardless of the route it takes, it cannot be trusted to safely build the Permian Highway Pipeline through Hill Country.”

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Meanwhile, Summit Midstream applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday for a permit to construct the Double E Pipeline, a 135 mile natural gas line starting in Eddy County and connecting to Waha in West Texas.

Double E would have a capacity of about 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of gas transport and was intended to connect the Permian Basin’s natural gas supply with markets in Mexico and the Gulf Coast.

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Permian Basin natural gas pipeline goes into service, connects to markets on Gulf Coast

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