Sections of a 20-inch pipeline are scattered all around Batesville. Ultimately the finished line will carry a liquid across the country that will be transformed into a variety of consumer plastics. A geologic formation called the Marcellus/Utica Shale, deposited in a marine environment 390 million years ago, represents a new source of domestic energy and economic growth potential as “one of the nation’s most prolific areas of liquids-rich natural gas,” points out the Web site www.atexexpresspipeline.com.
“The 1,230-mile Appalachia-to-Texas (ATEX) Express Pipeline is designed to facilitate development of this quickly growing resource by providing takeaway capacity for ethane from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the Texas Gulf Coast petrochemical market.” Ethane is a natural gas liquid (NGL), like butane and propane. The ATEX pipeline’s northern portion will involve the construction of 369 miles of pipeline from Washington County, Pa., and through Batesville to Seymour, where it will connect with an existing pipeline owned by Enterprise Liquids Pipeline LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enterprise Products Partners LP, Houston, Texas.
That pipeline, which currently transports refined products from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest, will be placed into ethane service and the flow direction will be reversed. At its southern terminus, ATEX will have access to a new 55-mile pipeline to be built by Enterprise Products that will extend from Beaumont, Texas, to the company’s NGL storage complex at Mont Belvieu, Texas, according to the Web site. The pipeline’s route was determined by professional survey teams and pipeline engineers, and was designed to minimize the impact on landowners, the environment, historical areas and communities through which it will pass. Wherever practical, ATEX parallels existing pipelines.
The timetable: landowner outreach and field surveys, October 2011-July 2012; route selection and preparation of permit applications, September 2011-September 2012; final U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit review and approval, July-September 2012; start of construction, April 2013; final cleanup and land restoration, November 2013-January 2014. Pipeline Summit Resources, Cincinnati, has helped with land acquisition, reported consultant Donna Cardwell. The contractor is Precision Pipeline (www.precisionpipelinellc.com), Eau Claire, Wis., said Batesville Water & Gas Utility comptroller Doug Browne. Will state roads 229, 129 and 46 near Batesville be totally closed or limited to one lane of traffic with flaggers during the pipeline’s installation? The answer is an amazing no. A directional drill “will actually bore under the road so there will be no impact to traffic,” said Rick Rainey, Enterprise Products Partners media relations vice president. Work should be finished in the Batesville area around November, according to Rainey. ATEX Express, built at an undisclosed price, is scheduled to be in-service during the first quarter of 2014. Oversight has been plentiful, the Web site noted. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal government agency that regulates the permitting of interstate natural gas liquid pipelines. Other federal agencies – including the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – also have reviewed the project’s relevant parts. In addition, a number of local and state agencies have participated in ATEX’s planning and permitting. Many will benefit from the project, according to the Web site. As many as 4,000 construction and full-time jobs are expected to be created. In addition, increased natural gas activity may cause more to be employed in the future.
There also could be hirings at new and expanded ethylene plants. States and counties will benefit from taxes generated by continued operation of the pipeline and related economic activity. Due to the influx of activity during construction, the project is expected to boost the sale of local goods and services in communities along the route. Property owners along the route will be financially compensated for the portion of land that is used for pipeline right-of-way. At the end of construction, the land will be restored as closely as possible to pre-construction conditions. After completion, typically the only restrictions in the pipeline easement include the construction of new permanent structures, ponds and pools, excessive dirt or fill, or its removal, and the planting of deep-rooted vegetation, such as large trees. Landowners are usually allowed to use the land’s surface much as they had prior to the pipeline’s installation, provided that the uses do not interfere with its safe operation.
The ethane process
• Natural gas is extracted from the ground.
• Natural gas liquids are removed from natural gas
• Ethane is separated from other natural gas liquids at a fractionation facility.
• Via the pipeline, ethane is transported to a petrochemical processing plant
• Ethane is converted to ethylene. • Ethylene is converted to a host of petrochemicals.
• Petrochemicals are used in everyday products, such as furniture, cleaners, antifreeze, brake fluids, paints and plastics.