A bill seeking to improve pipeline safety and reduce emissions concerning climate change was introduced to the House of Representatives on November 15, 2019. The Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Environmentally Responsible (SAFER) Pipelines Act of 2019 was introduced by representative Peter DeFazio (Democrat, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) and Frank Pallone (Democrat, Chairman of The House Energy and Commerce Committee). Current federal regulations are supposed to enforce safety in our environment and the public. DeFazio claims that the current legislation is, “woefully outdated”, he adds, “In 2018 alone there were 636 pipeline incidents that left eight people dead and injured another 90, including the horrific incident that occurred in Merrimack Valley Massachusetts.” The National Safety Transportation Board recently declared the cause of the Merrimack explosion resulted from inadequate management and poor oversight from Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
The Laurel Pipeline, which has operated since 1957, runs east-to-west across the state of Pennsylvania, delivering gasoline, diesel and heating fuels from the Philadelphia refineries to central and western Pennsylvania. Laurel Pipe Line Co., a subsidiary of Buckeye Partners LP based in Houston, TX, owns and operates the pipeline. Over the past few years, Laurel Pipe Line Co has been petitioning to change the direction of the pipeline to run west-to-east. Local gasoline retailers such as GetGo and Sheetz have been fighting against Laurel Pipe Line Co. on the reversal since this first began last June. The local retailers fear that the pipeline reversal will reduce competition, eliminate jobs in the area and drive up pump prices. The retailers have won the initial fight as the Public Utility Commission (PUC) decided to block Laurel Pipe Line Co. from a full reversal.
Across North America, temperature fluctuations, refinery turnarounds, and pipeline disruptions have created supply challenges getting petroleum to market. When refineries shut down for maintenance there is always a potential for a supply shortage in the effected markets, couple that with increased demand due to weather and all of a sudden a long (plenty of product) market becomes a short (scant amounts of product) market.
Earlier this week, oil and gas industry supporters lined the streets of Calgary outside of city hall in support of government action. The oil industry is costing the province of Alberta and Canada an estimated $80 million a day because of too much production and not enough pipeline. With the looming provincial and federal election, Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are feeling the heat.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given partial permission for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) stabilization plan to move forward. The MVP project is a natural gas pipeline system that spans 300 miles from Northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia retrieving its supply from the Marcellus and Utica shale sites. The pipeline is part of a joint venture of EQT Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; Con Edison Transmission, Inc.; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream, LLC. The project is expected to supply up to two million dekatherms (dth) per day of transmission capacity to markets in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions of the US. With compressor stations located in Wetzel, Braxton, and Fayette counties of West Virginia.