January 2021, Vol. 248, No. 1



Open Grid Europe Looks to Operate Gas Pipeline in March  

Source: Zeelink
Source: Zeelink

Open Grid Europe is testing the recently completed $705 million (600 million euro) Zeelink gas pipeline with plans to make it operational, possibly as early as March 2021.  

The 134-mile (215-km) pipeline is the joint effort of Open Grid Europe GmbH, which handled the planning and construction of the pipeline, and Thyssengas mbH.   

The 932-MMcf/d (26.4-MMcm/d) pipeline begins at the Belgian-German border at Lichtenbusch, near Aachen, and ends at the North Rhine-Westphalia town of Legden. The project includes a compressor station located at Würselen in Aachen.   

On completion, the pipeline will give parts of northwest Germany direct access to the Zeebrugge liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Belgium.  

This project is part of Germany’s efforts to convert the northern German gas grid from low-calorific gas, sourced from the soon-to-close massive Groningen gas field in Holland, to high-calorific gas, which is imported from Qatar, the United States and Nigeria.  

Interestingly, this pipeline was planned and constructed despite Germany’s long-term plans to construct its own LNG import terminals along the North Sea coast. 

Tellurian Withdraws Application for Permian Global Access Pipeline  

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) developer Tellurian told federal energy regulators it wants to withdraw its application to build the Permian Global Access natural gas pipeline in Texas and Louisiana.  

The filing with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) came a day after Tellurian said its President and Chief Executive Meg Gentle will leave the company.  

The 625-mile (1,005-km) Permian pipeline was designed to transport up to 2.3 Bcf/d (65 MMcm/d) of gas from the Permian Shale in West Texas and eastern New Mexico to southwest Louisiana near where Tellurian wants to build the Driftwood LNG export plant.  

In what has been a tough year for the LNG industry after coronavirus demand destruction caused global energy prices to collapse, Tellurian said in the filing that “current market conditions do not support the economic thresholds to pursue the [Permian pipe] further at this time.”  

Houston-based Tellurian told Reuters it “continues to believe that in time the proposed project will provide significant benefits” and it will host a new open season “in the event market conditions rebound and the market needs an additional transportation solution.”  

In addition to the Permian pipe, Tellurian has also planned to build the 4-Bcf/d (113-MMcm/d) Driftwood, 2-Bcf/d (57-MMcm/d) Haynesville Global Access and 2-Bcf/d Delhi Connector gas pipelines in Louisiana.  

In the past, Tellurian estimated the Driftwood project would cost about $27.5 billion and include the pipelines, the 3.6-Bcf/d (102-MMcm/d) LNG export plant, and gas production and other assets.  

However, in August, the company reduced the cost of the first phase of the project by deferring most of the pipelines and including liquefaction trains capable of producing around 2 Bcf/d of LNG.  

BP Begins Transporting from Subsea Pipeline in East Nile Delta  

BP began natural gas production from its Qattameya gas field in the East Nile Delta, offshore Egypt.  

The tie-back to the Ha’py and Tuart field ‎development is provided by a new 31-mile (50-km) pipeline and is connected to the company’s subsea ‎utilities via a 31-mile umbilical.  

The offshore gas field is located approximately 28 miles (45 km) west ‎of the Ha’py platform, in 354 feet (108 meters) of water.   

Discovered in 2017 and located in the North Damietta offshore concession, BP says the field should produce up to 50 MMcf/d (1.4 MMcm/d) of gas. The gas is ultimately transported into Egypt’s national grid.  

“By building on BP’s significant ‎existing assets and infrastructure offshore Egypt, we were able to develop Qattameya ‎efficiently and economically,” said Karim Alaa, BP’s North Africa regional president. “Creating value through high-quality, efficient oil and gas ‎developments is a key part of BP’s strategy.”  

Court Allows Construction to Continue on Mountain Valley Pipeline  

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion to stay a permit for the $6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia.  

The decision, according to industry analysts, bolsters the likelihood that Equitrans Midstream will be able to put the project into service during the second half of 2021.  

The 303-mile (488-km) pipeline is designed to deliver 2 Bcf/d (57 MMcm/d) of gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale region in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to consumers in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.   

Mountain Valley has been one of several oil and gas pipelines delayed by regulatory and legal brought on by problems found with permits issued by the Trump administration.  

When Equitrans started construction in February 2018, it estimated Mountain Valley would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018.  

The Nationwide Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allows the project to cross waterbodies.  

Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy, Consolidated Edison I, AltaGas and RGC Resources.  

Nord Stream 2 to Resume Pipelaying to Start New Year  

Russia’s Nord Stream 2 plans to resume pipelaying work on a 1.6-mile (2.6-km) stretch of the stalled Moscow-backed gas pipeline to Europe in Germany’s exclusive Economic Zone.  

The route, which bypasses the Ukraine, is nearly finished, but a final stretch of about 75 miles (120 km) still needs to be laid.  

Work on the 765-mile (1,230-km) pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea was halted in December 2019 when pipelaying company Swiss-Dutch Allseas suspended operations after U.S. sanctions targeted companies providing vessels to lay the pipes.  

Separately, the Russian pipelaying vessel Akademik Cherskiy stopped near the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, Refinitiv Eikon data showed, according to Reuters.  

The Gazprom-led consortium building the 764-mile (1,230-km) pipeline said in November that work would resume after a year-long delay stemming from U.S. sanctions.   

Anti-Pipeline Activists Face Terrorism Charges for Rail Scheme  

U.S. authorities in Seattle charged two people with terrorism, following an attack on train tracks, in an effort allegedly meant to interfere with construction of a natural gas pipeline across British Columbia, Canada.  

Samantha Frances Brooks, 27, and Ellen Brennan Reiche, 23, both of Bellingham, Wash., are accused of placing “shunts” on Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks. The devices can cause trains to automatically brake and can disable railroad crossing guards, investigators said in a complaint.  

Opponents of the 416-mile (670-km) Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project poses the possibility of damage to the environment and does not take the rights of First Nations people into consideration.  

There have been 41 such cases involving the BNSF tracks since January, according to the Associated Press, with a message claiming responsibility posted on an anarchist website early this year.  

The suspects were arrested after triggering a game camera on BNSF property, the complaint said. The charge carries a prison term of up to 20 years.  

Corps of Engineers Grants Final Federal Permit for Enbridge Line 3  

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final federal permit for Enbridge Energy’s planned Line 3 crude pipeline replacement across northern Minnesota.  

The company now only needs for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue a storm water construction permit to protect surface waters from runoff while it is being built, and then for the independent Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to give a final go-ahead. The PUC has already approved the project several times.  

“These permits are yet another science-based approval for the project moving Line 3 closer to the start of construction,” Enbridge said in a statement. “Final state permits and authorizations are needed for work to begin before the end of 2020.”  

Line 3 begins in Alberta, Canada, then cuts across a corner of North Dakota before entering Minnesota on its way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisc. Enbridge wants to replace the Minnesota section because it was built in the 1960s and has needed increased maintenance.   

Replacement segments in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are already complete.  

Enbridge said the $2.6 billion replacement will be a safer method to transport oil to Midwest refineries while creating 4,200 construction jobs and generating millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues. 

Magellan Midstream to Boost Loading Capacity at Cheyenne Terminal

Magellan Midstream Partners will increase truck loading capacity at its refined oil products terminal in Cheyenne, Wyo., by more than 50%.  

The Magellan operation includes 300,000 barrels of storage for ultralow-sulfur diesel, gasoline and ethanol, with two loading bays. It receives refined products via a Magellan pipeline that originates in Casper.  

The $4.7 million expansion comes after HollyFrontier Corp. began decommissioning its 52,000-bpd Cheyenne refinery in the third quarter to convert it to produce renewable diesel. It was among refiners that earlier in 2020 moved toward renewable diesel, made from feedstock such as used cooking oil from fast-food restaurants.  

Magellan said the volume of gasoline, ethanol blends and diesel fuel loaded at the Cheyenne terminal increased during the third quarter of 2020.   

Uganda Gives Environmental Consent to $3.5 Billion Oil Pipeline  

Uganda granted environmental approval to Total for a $3.5 billion pipeline to ship crude oil from western fields to the Indian Ocean coast in Tanzania, despite pressure from lobby groups.  

The planned pipeline, from fields co-owned by France’s Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), would cross sensitive ecological systems including wildlife-rich areas, rivers and swampland that are catchments for Lake Victoria, according to Reuters.  

The 900-mile (1,445-km) pipeline, which will run to Tanga port in Tanzania, is key to landlocked Uganda’s start of commercial oil production.  

Uganda, with estimated reserves of 6 billion barrels, discovered oil in the Albertine rift basin in 2006, but production efforts stalled because of disagreements with foreign oil companies over taxes and development strategy.  

President Yoweri Museveni’s government has indicated production will start at the earliest in 2022.  

As Tanzania had already given its approval, the Ugandan stamp means the project now has environmental impact certification for its entire length.  

China Launches 685-Mile Section of Natural Gas Pipeline  

Operations have begun on the middle section of the China-Russia East pipeline, allowing natural gas from the Power of Siberia system in Russia to be transmitted to the smog-prone Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in northern China.  

The 685-mile (1,110-km) pipeline is designed to improve air quality in the region, where about a quarter of China’s steel-making capacity is located, by adding 27 MMcm/d (953 MMcf/d), China Oil & Gas Piping Network Corp. (PipeChina) said.  

This portion starts at Changling in Jilin and ends at Yongqing in Hebei. The pipeline also connects the existing gas pipelines in northeastern and northern China, as well as the gas storage projects in Dalian, Tangshan and Liaohe 

The northern part of the China-Russia East gas pipeline started operations in December 2019 and has transmitted nearly 4 Bcm (141 Bcf) of natural gas, according to Reuters. 

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