Fuelling the economy: North America’s pipelines

Construction on a pipeline project in the Piceance Basin. Miller Photography courtesy of Williams; construction on the Athabasca Pipeline.

Construction on a pipeline project in the Piceance Basin. Miller Photography courtesy of Williams; construction on the Athabasca Pipeline.

Stretching across approximately 4.8 per cent of the earth’s surface, North America is home to some of the largest pipeline projects in the world. Here, Pipelines International takes a look at some of the current proposed pipeline projects on the continent. Read on for the opportunities that these projects may present for your company.

Cross-border oil pipelines

Enbridge Energy Partners, through its subsidiary Enbridge Pipelines (Bakken) LLC is currently constructing the Bakken Pipeline Project, which crosses through parts of Montana, North Dakota, United States and Saskatchewan, Canada.

The company is proposing to extend an existing pipeline (running from Berthold, North Dakota, to Steelman, Saskatchewan) by constructing a 124 km, 16 inch diameter pipeline from a new terminal near Steelman, Saskatchewan, to the Enbridge Pipelines Inc. mainline Terminal near Cromer, Manitoba. The proposed project scope includes the installation of new pumps and associated equipment, and utility upgrades at the Steelman Terminal.

Enbridge will also expand the US portion of Line 26 by constructing two new pumping stations and replacing a 17.7 km segment of the existing 12 inch diameter pipeline between Kenaston and Lignite, North Dakota.

The proposed replacement section will be re-routed around the town of Lignite to the east and northeast, generally following an existing railroad right-of-way. The new pump stations will be constructed in Kenaston and Lignite. In addition, the project also calls for an expansion at Enbridge’s existing terminal and station in Berthold, North Dakota.

The timing for completion of the Bakken Pipeline Project is early 2013.

TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Project is an approximately 780 km, 36 inch diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Cushing, Oklahoma, and extending south to Nederland, Texas.

Proposed in early 2012, construction of the Gulf Coast Project is expected to begin in mid-2012, pending the necessary permits for specific construction activities, with an anticipated in-service date of mid to late 2013. The pipeline will have the initial capacity to transport 700,000 bbl/d and can be further expanded to transport 830,000 bbl/day to Gulf Coast refineries.

In addition, TransCanada is also discussing the route for the 76 km Houston Lateral Project – an additional project under development to transport oil to refineries in the Houston area.

The proposed route of the pipeline would pass through the counties of Liberty, Chambers and Harris to Houston’s refining centre.

The proposed facilities would double the US Gulf Coast refining market capacity directly accessible from the Keystone Pipeline System to over 4 MMbbl/d of oil. Associated facilities include the necessary receipt, delivery, pipeline, pumping, monitoring, control and ancillary facilities required to increase capacity.

Current plans are for construction activities to begin in the first quarter of 2013 and commercial operation of the Houston Lateral to commence in the first quarter of 2014.

Upon completion, the Gulf Coast and Houston Lateral projects will become integrated components of the Keystone Pipeline System.

TransCanada is fully committed to the construction of the 1,897 km Keystone XL Pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska. The project is an extension of the 3,460 km Keystone Pipeline System that currently transports crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to markets in the American Midwest at Wood River and Patoka, Illinois, and at Cushing, Oklahoma.

Following TransCanada’s re-application for a Presidential Permit for the project in June 2012, the US Department of State reiterated that it expects to make a decision on the pipeline by the first quarter of 2013.

TransCanada anticipates approval of the Presidential Permit application – which is required as the pipeline will cross the Canada/US border – in the first quarter of 2013, after which construction will quickly begin. The project has an expected in-service date of 2015.

US oil pipelines

In April 2012, ONEOK Partners announced plans to invest $US1.5–1.8 billion between 2012 and 2015 to build the 2,092 km Bakken Crude Express Pipeline with the capacity to transport 200,000 bbl/d of crude oil from the Bakken Shale to Cushing, Oklahoma.

The pipeline would transport light, sweet crude oil from the Bakken Shale in the Williston Basin in North Dakota to the Cushing crude oil market hub. Additionally, the proposed pipeline route would be well positioned to transport crude oil production from the Niobrara Shale. The proposed route is expected to parallel more than 80 per cent of ONEOK’s existing and planned natural gas liquids pipelines.

Following receipt of all necessary permits and compliance with customary regulatory requirements, construction is expected to begin in late 2013 or early 2014, and be completed by early 2015.

In May 2012, SemGroup Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, and Gavilon LLC formed Glass Mountain Pipeline LLC to build a 338 km crude oil pipeline in Oklahoma.

The proposed pipeline, which will be constructed by SemGroup, will consist of two laterals. One lateral will originate near the town of Alva in Woods County. The second lateral will originate near the town of Arnett in Ellis County.

The new pipeline will have an initial capacity of approximately 140,000 bbl/d and 440,000 bbl/d of intermediate storage.

Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin this year and be commissioned in the second half of 2013. Upon completion, SemGroup’s master limited partnership Rose Rock Midstream will serve as the pipeline operator.

Enbridge is currently in the design and procurement stage of its 950 km Flanagan South Pipeline Project – a 36 inch diameter interstate crude oil pipeline that will originate in Flanagan, Illinois, and terminate in Cushing, Oklahoma, crossing Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The majority of the pipeline will parallel Enbridge’s existing Spearhead crude oil pipeline. Enbridge has also proposed to install seven pump stations, including one at the Flanagan terminal and six along the pipeline route. Initial capacity will be 585,000 bbl/d of oil.

In February 2012, Plains All American Pipeline (PAA) announced plans to construct a new 274 km pipeline to service the increasing Mississippian Lime crude oil production in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas.

This pipeline – in conjunction with the Medford to Cushing Pipeline conversion – is designed to provide approximately 175,000 bbl/d of crude oil transportation capacity to the Cushing market and is expected to be completed in mid-2013.

Originating in Alfalfa County near Alva, Oklahoma, and terminating at PAA’s crude oil storage facility in Cushing, the new pipeline will share approximately 129 km of right-of-way with PAA’s Medford to Cushing Pipeline. PAA plans to extend the pipeline from Alva northward into Kansas as demand warrants.

The reversal of the 805 km, 20 inch diameter Seaway crude oil pipeline was completed in May 2012, allowing it to transport crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline is owned by Seaway Crude Pipeline Company, a 50-50 joint venture owned by affiliates of Enterprise Products Partners and Enbridge.

The reversal will initially provide 150,000 bbl/d of capacity, which is expected to increase to more than 400,000 bbl/d in the first quarter of 2013 with additional modifications and increased pumping capabilities.

In addition, Enterprise and Enbridge are currently constructing the 804 km, 30 inch diameter Seaway Twinning Pipeline, which is expected to more than double the Seaway Pipeline’s capacity to 850,000 bbl/d by mid-2014. An additional 137 km lateral is planned as part of the twinning project.

US NGL pipelines

In April 2012, Enterprise Products Partners, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and DCP Midstream agreed to design and construct the 700 km Front Range Pipeline – a natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline from the Denver-Julesburg Basin in Colorado to Skellytown, Texas. The pipeline is expected to begin service in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Depending on shipper interest to the binding open commitment period, initial capacity is expected to be approximately 150,000 bbl/d, which can be readily expanded to approximately 230,000 bbl/d.

Each party will hold a one-third interest in the pipeline that will connect with both the Mid-America Pipeline system and the proposed Texas Express Pipeline.

The 933 km Texas Express Pipeline is planned to originate at Skellytown, Texas, and extend to NGL fractionation and storage facilities in Mont Belvieu, Texas. The pipeline will have an initial capacity of approximately 280,000 bbl/d and will be readily expandable to approximately 400,000 bbl/d. The project is currently in the design and procurement stage.

In addition, the Crosstex Energy Partnership received sufficient long-term supply commitments to proceed with the construction of its 209 km, 12 inch diameter Cajun-Sibon NGL Pipeline in Texas.

The pipeline will extend the partnership’s existing 708 km Cajun-Sibon NGL System and connect Crosstex’s NGL fractionation facilities in south central Louisiana to Mont Belvieu supply pipelines in east Texas. The new pipeline is expected to begin operations at or near its initial capacity of 70,000 bbl/d of NGL.

The new pipeline and facilities are expected to be operational in the first half of 2013.

US natural gas pipelines

TransCanada and ExxonMobil began working together in 2009 to develop the Alaska Pipeline Project (APP).

In March 2012, APP and the major Alaska North Slope gas producers (ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP) agreed to work together on the next generation of resource development in Alaska. The four companies are evaluating options for a large-scale LNG export facility from south-central Alaska as an alternative to a natural gas pipeline through Alberta.

TransCanada and ExxonMobil are considering two design options for the project. The first option involves construction of a 2,737 km pipeline from Alaska’s the North Slope to Alberta, Canada, where gas would enter existing pipeline systems supplying North American market. The second option involves the transportation of gas 1,287 km from North Slope to Valdez, Alaska, where it would be converted into LNG and be delivered by ship to North American and international markets.

Williams Energy and Cabot Oil and Gas, a North American independent natural gas producer, are working together to develop the approximately 194 km, 30 inch diameter Constitution Pipeline to connect abundant Appalachian natural gas supplies in northern Pennsylvania with major north-eastern markets by 2015.

The proposed project route will stretch from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, into Broome County, New York, Chenango County, and Delaware County, before terminating in Schoharie County.

Pending environmental approvals, the pipeline is proposed to commence construction in April 2014 with a target in-service date of March 2015.

In early June, Williams Energy received approval from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to enter into the pre-filing process for the proposed approximately 359 km Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline Project (PCGP). The PCGP will provide a link with existing pipeline systems that converge at Malin, Oregon, and the west coast of Coos Bay, Oregon. The project is being proposed to connect this natural gas supply hub, where energy is competitively traded on a daily basis, to a proposed LNG terminal.

The PCGP has the potential to give regional natural gas customers in Pacific Northwest market areas better access to domestic Rocky Mountain and Canadian supply basins.

Gas will be transported 370 km from interconnects near Malin, Oregon, west and north to the Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, where the natural gas will be liquefied for transport via ocean-going tanker to markets on the Pacific Rim. The proposed pipeline route does not need to be changed to accommodate the new east-to-west flow direction.

Construction is currently planned to commence in the fourth quarter of 2015, with an in-service date scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2017.

At the end of March 2012, NET Midstream announced that Eagle Ford Midstream will build an approximately 169 km, 24–30 inch diameter extension of its existing gas pipeline that will be anchored by a long-term gas transportation agreement with an affiliate of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.

The extended pipeline will transport residue gas from Western Gas Partners’ Brasada natural gas processing plant located in LaSalle County, Texas, to interstate and intrastate pipelines at the Agua Dulce Hub in Nueces County, Texas.

The first phase of the expansion will be brought into service in December 2012, with completion by April 2013.

The Eagle Ford Midstream system currently consists of 88.5 km of 16 inch diameter pipeline anchored by long-term commitments from producers in the LaSalle and McMullen counties, and delivers pipeline-quality gas to NET’s LaSalle Pipeline and Transco Pipeline located near Tilden, Texas.

Canadian oil pipelines

Enbridge is currently constructing the Athabasca Capacity Expansion on the existing 540 km line that runs from Fort McMurray to Hardisty, Alberta. This is expected to be in service by the first quarter of 2013. In addition to this, Enbridge is also in the planning stage of twinning the Athabasca pipeline, which would consist of a 345 km pipeline. This is expected to be in service in 2015.

In addition, Suncor Energy Oil Sands Ltd Partnership has asked Enbridge Athabasca to progress regulatory approval for a new pipeline between Enbridge Athabasca’s existing Athabasca and Cheecham terminals to accommodate Suncor’s increased production rates.

The Wood Buffalo (Line 18 Extension) Pipeline Project which is currently under construction includes an approximately 95 km, 30 inch diameter pipeline that will transport a diluted bitumen/synthetic heavy crude oil blend from the Athabasca Terminal to the Cheecham Terminal. From Cheecham, it will directly connect with the existing Line 18 (Waupisoo Pipeline), which extends from the Cheecham Terminal to the Edmonton Terminal.

The project is set to be in service in 2012.

Also under construction is Enbridge’s 138 km Woodland Pipeline Extension Project which will run from the existing Enbridge Athabasca Cheecham Terminal to the Edmonton Terminal, effectively extending the Woodland Pipeline, which is currently in development with a planned in-service date of September 2012.

In June 2012, TransCanada was selected by Shell Canada Ltd and its LNG Canada Project joint venture partners to develop an approximately 700 km natural gas pipeline from the Montney gas-producing region, near Dawson Creek, British Columbia (BC), to LNG Canada’s proposed LNG facility near Kitimat.

As it is early in the project planning process, a specific route has not yet been selected. Before a route can be defined, TransCanada will engage with Aboriginal and local communities near the conceptual route and continue with the stakeholder engagement throughout the life cycle of the project.

The company plans to file a project description with the BC Environmental Assessment Office in the second half of 2012 and file the environmental assessment application in early 2014. Pending all required regulatory and project approvals, construction of the proposed pipeline is expected to begin in the summer of 2015 with pipeline operations beginning in time to meet the in-service requirements of the proposed LNG Canada facility.

Mexico’s natural gas pipelines

In February 2012, TransCanada announced plans to build the 235 km Tamazunchale Pipeline in east-central Mexico to connect the facilities of Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company to natural gas power-generation plants near Tamazunchale, Mexico.

TransCanada expects to invest approximately $US500 million in the pipeline and anticipates an in-service date in the first quarter of 2014. The project will have a contracted capacity of 630 MMcf/d and use a combination of 30 and 36 inch diameter pipe with 37 MW of installed compression.

Enter your details here to subscribe to the free Pipelines International fortnightly online update.

Thank you for signing up for the Pipelines International fortnightly online update.