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Gas Pipelines Do the Safety Dance

The industry responds to FERC's new safety regulations.
Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 2003

that the technology has been proven in the lab.

Albrecht says keyhole technology could be a big issue because as much as 80 percent of a repair expense is due to excavation and restoration. If companies can bring the right kind of tools into a hole about 18 inches in diameter, they could save a lot of money, Albrecht says. "We're bringing it down to micro-excavation, where maybe you'll be able to enter and do repairs through openings as small as two inches," he says.

Albrecht noted that urban utilities, with much of their pipe networks buried under concrete and asphalt, are partnering with GTI on keyhole technologies. Washington Gas, Philadelphia's PECO Energy, Southern California Gas Co., New York City's KeySpan Energy, and Toronto's Enbridge Consumers Gas all are using new keyhole technologies in daily operations while working with GTI and others to advance the industry's ability to pinpoint problems and make repairs with greater precision.

Coastal Zone Interstate Pipelines: Are States Running the Show?

Donald F. Santa Jr., executive vice president at INGAA and former FERC commissioner, points to a recent problem pipelines are running into: States are using the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to delay or block the construction of interstate pipelines. Santa notes that CZMA works like a lot of federal environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, where functions are delegated to the states. If the states put in place a coastal zone management program that meets the federal criteria, they then can administer it. So when there is a federal action that affects the coast, the state needs to determine whether it is consistent with the coastal zone management plan. If the state determines that it is not consistent, then the applicant can appeal to the Department of Commerce, and its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) division handles those appeals.

"What has happened is the Millenium pipeline that NiSource and others are proposing and the Islander East pipeline that Duke and KeySpan are proposing have run into CZMA problems with the states of New York and Connecticut," Santa says. New York denied the consistency determination for Millenium and Connecticut denied the consistency determination for Islander East.

The interstate Islander East pipeline would supply natural gas to growing energy markets in Connecticut, Long Island, and New York City. It is equally owned by subsidiaries of Duke and KeySpan. And while all New York and FERC approvals have been granted, the project is stymied by Connecticut.

John Sheridan, spokesman for Duke and Islander East pipeline, explains the morass, saying the Connecticut House and Senate passed legislation to extend for another year the banning of cables and pipelines crossing Long Island sound. The legislation went to the governor's office on June 12, and he had until June 25 to either sign it or veto it. "On the regulatory side, regarding CZMA, back in October we had appealed Connecticut's denial of our CZM (application) to the U.S. Department of Commerce," Sheridan says. "Back in March, after having discussions with the state Department of Environment (DEP), we came up