Published August 2, 2013
At a Girard City Council meeting in July, Stewart Burson of Halcon Field Services presented a proposal for a new oil- and gas-gathering pipeline.
The proposed pipeline would start at what is referred to as the Avalon Well Pad, located at 3265 Warren-Sharon Road in Vienna Township.
The pipeline would end at the proposed sales point — a $70 million fuel depot located at the Ohio Commerce Center in Lordstown.
This facility already has been approved by the village’s board of zoning appeals. Once completed, the project will include four truck bays, a 20-rail-car loading platform, three condensate stabilizers, which capture condensate that would otherwise burn off into the environment, and six storage tanks, each capable of holding up to 90,000 barrels of crude or other products from the Utica Shale play.
Construction will occur in three phases, with the first expected to be complete in 2014. This line appears to be the solution for product delivery from areas north of Girard in Trumbull County.
In transporting natural gas, there are three kinds of pipelines: 1. “gathering” lines that transport the gas from the well pads to a larger pipeline system; 2. “transmission” lines that deliver the gas to distribution companies, frequently traveling long distances; 3. “distribution” lines that are the small lines that carry the gas to consumers and businesses.
“All of this is very preliminary as these initial meetings with council occur,” said Burson, when asked how long the pipeline project might take to complete. He said the pipes in this gathering system will be buried a minimum of 36 inches underground.
I could not get details about what the diameter and thickness of each pipe would be, or at how much pressure they would operate. Traditionally, regulations on gathering pipelines have been less stringent than other types of pipelines because of lower pressures.
Products flowing through gathering lines are raw, however, and they have not yet been mixed with thiols — a class of organic chemical compounds. This means that leaks in the lines will not have the smell they do once the product has been separated and treated at a cryogenic processing plant.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website, there were 591 pipeline incidents reported in 2010 involving 22 fatalities and 109 injuries for a total of $1.4 million in property damage.
The good news, however, is the incident reports for gas-gathering pipelines are much different. For example, in 2012, there were 10 gas-gathering pipeline incidents reported with no fatalities and no injuries for a total of only $1,003,588 in property damage.
Part of the proposed pipeline will be installed on what used to be the Girard Lower Lake bed. This lake was drained as a result of breaching the Girard Lower Lake dam.
When asked if eventually refilling the lower lake would cause a problem with the proposed pipeline, Burson said it would not. Placing lines under bodies of water is well within Halcon’s experience range. It seems to me that the city of Girard should now focus on how much it will gain financially by introducing additional liability onto this traditionally liable property. There has been renewed interest in the reopening of these lakes, and any action taken should not deter this possibility.