Pipeline Construction & Design
Q: Where does the pipeline start and stop?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners) this project is originating in Lake Charles and running to St James. There is a crude oil terminal facility in St James and similar refineries and terminalling facilities in Lake Charles. We are connecting those two assets together with this pipeline.
Q: How will the pipeline affect the residential area?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners) in terms of our construction techniques we’re going to be burying the pipe deeper, approximately 4 feet to the top of the pipe, through any kind of a residential area to minimize any risk that it could be struck during work going on in the area. The ongoing monitoring of the pipeline is also another means to make sure that it’s safe for the residents. The regulations are set up around the pipeline to ensure that we do have safe infrastructure development where there are residents nearby.
Q: What are the safety risk of these pipelines to residents of Louisiana?
A: (Brigham McCown, former head of Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) We do a lot of things at the federal government level, the agency that I used to head is responsible for overseeing all of the pipelines and the 500 to 600 people there plus people part of the state government take their job very seriously to regulate these pipelines. I have fined pipeline companies when I didn’t think they were doing enough in the past, but I’m happy to tell you that in the last 10 years even though pipeline leaks are very rare, they’re getting rarer and the rate of pipeline leaks is down by 50% just 10 years ago. A lot of that is actually due to something that I helped put in place when I was there and it’s called the 8-1-1 system and it’s the call before you dig. It’s very important because what we’re really finding now is that pipeline accidents occur when somebody hits the pipeline or digs up something without calling first. I can tell you that last year we shipped almost 15 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products and they have the best safety rating of any transportation system, they’re more than 99.999% safe. Spill volumes are very small and the regulations at the federal level require operators to have contingency plans in place, require them to clean up any spills that do occur and even in the past where there have been spills in other states there’s been no lasting impacts from those. I’m pretty proud of the safety record that pipelines have. You have less risk transporting oil through a pipeline than any of us probably have of getting in our car and driving around town today.
Q: What is being done to ensure there aren’t any leaks?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners ) there’s a number of things that were done. First off the most important thing for me to emphasis is that is avoiding leaks in the first place. We have a comprehensive right of way monitoring program where we have weekly overflights of the entire right of way to ensure that there is no third party threats that are infringing upon the pipeline, along with the work that our operations personnel are doing up and down the pipeline to keep an eye on that. The second part of that is our integrity management of the pipeline itself which includes internal inspection of the line, monitoring it to ensure that we have the right kinds of cathodic protection on the pipeline to ensure that there’s no degradation of the steel itself. The third tier of that would be the pipeline control center that’s providing 24 hour monitoring of the pipeline with man personnel observing the pressures and flows across the pipeline and they’re assisted in that effort with a computational pipeline monitoring system, a fancy way of saying a computer that monitors the pressures and flows to ensure that everything is balancing out on the pipeline and that we have no loss of product on it.
Q: What steps does the company make to ensure property owners are well informed?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners ) The process if the pipeline is directly impacting the property that we go through we would initially contact the landowners to notify them that we are requesting to route the pipeline through a property that’s owned there and enter into negotiations with that family to provide compensation for placing the pipeline in that area.
Q: How are you ensuring you’ll restore the property that you cross?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners ) depending on whether we’re talking about something that’s actually in the basin, our permit that allows us to work through the basin is going to require us to restore the right of way to the existing grade that’s present in the basin. That is something that we will be inspected and monitored for as we prosecute the project. In any kind of upland area we do restore everything to grade and reseed and monitor that to make sure there is no drainage issues or impact to the overall grade of soil especially in the cultivated areas.
Q: What about the water flow in the basin?
A: (Gary Freeman, Principal Hydrologist) there are some berms from the 60s that are out in the basin and some of those berms will be lowered. Those berms aren’t preventing water from flowing, it’s just flowing through different portions of the berm. In reality the BBP will not be impacting hydrology in anyway and there might be some minor benefits.
Q: What guarantee can you have that this will not affect the basin?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners ) the construction methodology that’s being used is designed to ensure that this pipe is built above and beyond any of the current safety regulations that are required by law. The ongoing continuous monitoring of it is simply insurance to make sure that if any kind of event should occur would be responded to immediately and that cleanup efforts would be done to make sure anything was restored completely. We proactively are inspecting this pipeline and adding inline inspection tools and observations of the condition of the pipe itself, as well as sometimes adding chemicals to prevent internal corrosion. So there’s a lot of efforts that goes into maintaining the pipe, assessing its current condition and ensuring that it is stable and free of any corrosion and also making sure that there’s no third party risks. The location and depth of the pipe are key to ensuring that it is free of other threats.
Q: How do residents near the Atchafalaya Basin benefit from this pipeline?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners) there are a number of things that are going to be occurring that are going to benefit the local residents. During the actual construction we’re going to have as many as 2,500 construction workers along the right of way, they’ll be frequenting local businesses, staying in local motels, eating at restaurants, so there’s a direct benefit to the community there. In addition, the pipeline itself is going to paying property taxes once it goes into service. Those property taxes will also benefit the local communities. The last little bit was the acquisition of easements for the pipeline itself and the payments that have been made to the land owners, both for the right to install the pipeline across these properties and for crop damages where we were crossing through agricultural areas.
Q: Are the 600 jobs that the pipeline is bringing in long-term jobs and will they be local hires?
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners) the 600 employee number is a number that is going to be across the entire Energy Transfer family of partnerships working throughout Louisiana. Those are permanent jobs that will be present. Those include the Bayou Bridge Pipeline operations, as well as our other assets including the Lake Charles LNG facility and other assets that we operate across the state. Those are certainly local opportunities that will be available to Louisianians to apply for and engage with. We are excited to provide some additional opportunities in the state.
Q: How will craw fisherman catch fish with pipes in the way? How can the boats pass the pipelines?
A: (Gary Freeman, Principal Hydrologist) the pipeline will be buried and under the river boards, well underground so they’ll be out of the way and won’t be in anyone’s way. The craw fisherman will be able to pass right over the pipeline without noticing they’re there.
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners) the construction methodology itself we do have to dig a trench to install the pipe through, but that trench will be completely backfilled and the grade restored so there will not be any kind of obstruction for the craw fisherman to move through the basin. In addition the way that we end up installing the pipe is to put that trench in and then the pipe is usually pushed into the trench so there will not be a lot of construction equipment up and down that right of way during the actual installation of the pipe. We are using a lot of specialized equipment in order to minimize the amount of heavy traffic that we have to move through these sensitive environmental wetlands.
Q: Why don’t we just move forward with renewable energy? It’s tested and proved in other parts of the country and there’s no danger in that.
A: (Major General James Spider Marks, President of the Marks Collaborative) the exploration, exploitation, delivery, and access to fossil fuels is a must, it has to continue. In parallel with that, and not exclusive of that, is the further development of renewables. Because we can take advantage of the fossil fuels that exist and meet the demands that we will continue to have for the next several decades we can and must at the same time continue to make advances in all of the renewables that are out there, but let’s not make advances on the renewables at the expense of fossil fuels which are essential for all of us to power our grids, turn on our engines, and exist in the society that we’ve created for ourselves. We really can do both and we are doing both.
A: (Chris Sonneborn, Senior VP Energy Transfer Partners) one of the things that I think gets frequently overlooked when we’re talking about the movement of fossil fuels is the barrel of oil that we move on this pipeline is not exclusively used for energy production but is actually a source material for all sorts of material that is used in our daily lives. The importance of that can’t really be overstated and some of those products go into the manufacturing of the solar panels themselves.