Oct. 24–Houston-based energy giant Kinder Morgan has officially asked to cancel their plans to convert a more than 70 year-old, 2-foot diameter pipeline from natural gas service to transport of hazardous natural gas liquids (NGLs).
NGLs are hydrocarbon byproducts co-produced in fracking operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Kinder Morgan filed a formal “request to vacate certificate” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), effectively terminating the controversial Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline project (UMTP).
The UMTP project would have reversed flow direction and converted service on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), which crosses six states and 18 Kentucky counties, including several Rowan County subdivisions.
In a statement Wednesday announcing a third-quarter dividend, Kinder Morgan said it “has determined that it will not proceed with its previously proposed” plan to convert the TGP from carrying natural gas to natural gas liquids.
The request to vacate means “all of the authorizations that FERC has granted would be removed,” said Tamara Allen-Young, a media spokesperson for FERC.
“They are going to withdraw, basically, or give up their authorization,” Allen-Young said. “If they want to do something similar or the exact same thing, they would have to reapply.”
In its request, Kinder Morgan said it no longer needs the “certificate of public convenience and necessity” that FERC granted for the project in September 2017.
“Due to changed market circumstances, Tennessee no longer intends to pursue the (abandonment and capacity restoration project) and will continue to utilize its existing facilities and pipeline capacity to provide service to its shippers,” the request states. “Consequently, Tennessee hereby requests that (FERC) vacate the certificate granted to it in this proceeding. Tennessee appreciates (FERC’s) assistance with this matter.”
Kinder Morgan “has determined that it will not proceed with its previously proposed UMTP natural gas liquids project, instead maintaining that segment of an existing TGP pipeline in natural gas service while developing an attractive project to reverse its flow,” the statement reads. “TGP is now actively pursuing commercial arrangements for natural gas service from Appalachia to the Gulf of Mexico on that segment of its pipeline.”
The NGL project drew sharp criticism and vocal opposition from a wide range of Kentucky counties and institutions, including the cities of Danville and Richmond where the existing pipeline passes through dense neighborhoods and over Herrington Lake.
Nearly 1,000 comments opposing the project were submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The pipeline conversion project raised significant concerns over gaps in federal and state regulatory authorities, disclosure of risks to the public and local governments, and the rights of communities to determine whether or not hazardous liquids pipelines are compatible with high density residential areas and drinking water resources.
Kentucky citizens, county governments, and environmental groups worked together for more than three and half years to stop the project.
A federal lawsuit by organizations Kentucky Heartwood, Kentucky Resources Council, and the Allegheny Defense Project, challenging the 2017 approval of the project by FERC, is pending in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Other organizations involved in effort to block the pipeline conversion project include the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, Danville’s Citizens Opposed to the Pipeline Conversion, and the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition.
Following FERCs approval of the project, Kinder Morgan repeatedly filed quarterly extensions for its required Implementation Plan, citing market uncertainty and their need to “confirm the degree of market interest in the project.”
The company has said that will maintain the line in natural gas service, and seek to reverse flow to move natural gas from Appalachia to the Gulf of Mexico.
Also on record opposing the project are Boyle, Madison, Clark, Garrard, Marion, and Rowan counties, the cities of Danville, Richmond, and Junction City, and Lexington/Fayette County Government.
Institutions and economic organizations opposing the project include Eastern Kentucky University, Madison County Schools, Berea College, Blue Grass Area Development District, Danville/Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
Brad Stacy can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.
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