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Pipeline News

TC Energy to Resume Work on Keystone XL Pipeline in February

1/16/2020

TC Energy to Resume Work on Keystone XL Pipeline in FebruaryPhoto: Keystone XL

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) — Canadian pipeline company TC Energy Corp said it planned to start pre-construction work in February for its Keystone XL oil pipeline, the start of what it expects to be a busy work schedule for the long-delayed project.

TC said in a filing with U.S. District Court in Montana that in February it would start mobilizing heavy construction equipment in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, and aim to begin building a 1.2-mile (1.93 km) segment spanning the U.S.-Canada border in April.

Work on the border-crossing segment is subject to receiving federal approvals, including a right-of-way and temporary use permit, TC said.

The $8 billion Keystone XL project would carry 830,000 bpd of oil sands crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest and then on to the Gulf Coast. It has been delayed for more than a decade by opposition from landowners, environmental groups and tribes, and after former U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the project.

The State Department has yet to issue a final environmental impact statement. A judge ruled in November 2018 the agency had not conducted an adequate review of the pipeline.

U.S. President Donald Trump in March last year signed a new permission for the pipeline, a move in his administration’s pursuit of “energy dominance,” or maximizing production of oil, gas and coal for domestic use and exports.

Congested pipelines have resulted in lower Canadian prices and government-ordered production curtailments in the province of Alberta.

“Keystone XL is crucial in building market access for Alberta, ensuring high-quality Canadian oil that can be relied upon throughout North America,” Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a statement, adding that she is pleased with TC’s construction schedule.

TC said it plans to start building pumping stations along the pipeline route in June. Work on a pipeline segment in Nebraska would also start in June, followed by the start of construction of segments in Montana and South Dakota in August.

The schedule hinges on starting to mobilize equipment in February, TC said. Work will continue in 2021.

Source: pipeline news



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White House Unveils Plan to Speed Big Projects Permits

1/9/2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to speed permitting for major infrastructure projects like oil pipelines, road expansions and bridges, one of the biggest deregulatory actions of the president’s tenure. 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to speed permitting for major infrastructure projects like oil pipelines, road expansions and bridges, one of the biggest deregulatory actions of the president's tenure.
White House

The plan, released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), would help the administration advance big energy and infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline or roads, bridges and federal buildings that President Donald Trump and industry groups complained have been hampered by red tape.

“For the first time in over 40 years today we are issuing a new rule under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to completely overhaul the dysfunctional bureaucratic system that has created these massive obstructions,” Trump said at the White House on Thursday.

The proposal to update how the NEPA, the 50-year bedrock federal environmental law, is implemented is part of Trump’s broader effort to cut regulations and oversight to boost the industry.

“This proposal affects virtually every significant decision made by the federal government that affects the environment,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said, adding that the NEPA reform would be the “most significant deregulatory proposal” of the Trump administration.

The proposed rule says federal agencies would not need to factor in the “cumulative impacts” of a project, which could include its impact on climate change, making it easier for major fossil fuel projects to sail through the approval process and avoid legal challenges. 

CEQ chair Mary Neumayr told reporters that the agency will weigh feedback during the rule’s comment period on whether or how to more explicitly address climate impacts.

The proposal would also put one federal agency in charge of overseeing the review process, instead of giving multiple agencies oversight of the process and set a two-year deadline for environmental impact studies to be completed and a one-year deadline for less rigorous environmental assessments. 

Trump’s efforts to cut regulatory red tape have been praised by the industry. But they have so far largely backfired by triggering waves of lawsuits that the administration has lost in court, according to a running tally by the New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity.

Over the last few years, federal courts have ruled that NEPA requires the federal government to consider a project’s carbon footprint in decisions related to leasing public lands for drilling or building pipelines.

Other proposed changes include widening the categories of projects that can be excluded from NEPA altogether. If a type of project got a “categorical exclusion” from one agency in the past, for example, it would automatically be excluded from review by other agencies, according to the plan.

According to CEQ, the average length of a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement is currently 600 pages and takes 4.5 years to conclude. U.S. federal agencies prepare approximately 170 such assessments per year.

Trump, a commercial real estate developer before becoming president, frequently complained that the NEPA permitting process took too long.

“It’s big government at its absolute worst,” Trump said of NEPA.

Some of the country’s biggest industry groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, also have complained about lengthy permitting delays. 

Environmental groups warned the plan will remove a powerful tool to protect local communities from the adverse impacts of a hastily designed and reviewed project.

“Today’s destructive actions by Trump, if not blocked by the courts or immediately reversed by the next president, will have reverberations for decades to come,” said Rebecca Concepcion Apostol, U.S. program director at Oil Change International, an environmental group. 

The plan will go through a 60-public comment period before being finalized.

Environmental groups are expected to challenge the final proposal.

“If the regulations announced today drive agencies to diminish the extent or quality of their reporting, federal courts may very well conclude that their reports do not comply with the law,” said Notre Dame Law School Professor Bruce Huber.



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Tumbleweed Midstream

Tumbleweed Midstream Acquires Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System from DCP Midstream

CHEYENNE WELLS, Colo. – January 8, 2020 –

Source: Tumbleweed Midstream

Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC (“Tumbleweed”) today announced it has acquired the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System from DCP Midstream, LP (NYSE: DCP). The plant is located just west of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, near the Colorado-Kansas border. The Ladder Creek system is supported by long-term acreage dedications across a 1,000-square-mile area that spans Cheyenne, Kit Carson and Kiowa counties in Colorado and Hamilton, Greeley, Wichita, Kearney, Wallace and Finney counties in Kansas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. See system map here.

The Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System serves natural gas producers operating in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, which includes the Morrow, Mississippian, Spergen, Chester and Marmaton formations. The natural gas produced in the region has a high helium content, with average concentrations as high as three percent. The plant was built in 1997 by Union Pacific Resources (“Union Pacific”) to separate helium from the natural gas stream and liquefy it for transport to market. DCP Midstream acquired the Ladder Creek system from Union Pacific in 1999.

Tumbleweed Midstream was established in 2019 to focus on the acquisition, operation and growth of the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System. The company is supported by capital commitments from management and Tumbleweed’s founders.

Tumbleweed is led by CEO Durell Johnson, who has a unique history with the Ladder Creek plant. He served Union Pacific as the plant’s project engineer and project manager from 1997 to 1999. In this role Mr. Johnson hired and trained all employees, commissioned the plant in 1997 and managed operations until the plant was sold to DCP. Mr. Johnson started his 35-year career in the energy industry as a reservoir engineer with Exxon in Corpus Christi, Texas. Some of his more recent positions include director of engineering for Energy Transfer Company; vice president of engineering and operations for Regency Gas Services; vice president of engineering and operations for Clear Springs Energy; and senior vice president of engineering and operations for Stakeholder Midstream.

The Ladder Creek Helium Plant
Current processing capacity at the Ladder Creek cryogenic processing plant is 40 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (MMcf/d), expandable to 50 MMcf/d. The plant has the capacity to extract and liquefy 1.5 MMcf/d of helium, with extraction and liquefaction to purity levels of 99.999 percent. The plant also produces NGLs and residue gas. NGLs are transported via pipeline to the DCP Wattenberg pipeline for transportation to Conway, Kansas, for fractionation. Residue gas is sent via pipeline to CIG Rockies or to regional producers for use as fuel.

“The acquisition of the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System represents a significant opportunity for Tumbleweed Midstream,” said Tumbleweed CEO Durell Johnson. “The U.S. is the world’s largest helium producer. At the same time, the world supply of helium is suffering from a multiyear shortfall. This has boosted prices for natural gas with a high helium content and has begun to raise red flags in industries that depend on helium. The growth of Ladder Creek’s helium operations starts with delivering our current customers superior economics with the highest level of service. The helium is there, it’s highly valuable and by extracting it Tumbleweed can return premium netbacks to the producers in the region.”

Helium is used in cryogenics, MRI machines, welding, deep sea diving, manufacturing of fiber optic cables and semiconductors, and retail sales of helium-filled balloons.

Ladder Creek Gathering System
The gathering and distribution infrastructure associated with the Ladder Creek system includes approximately 730 miles of pipeline, divided as follows:

  • 190 miles of FERC-regulated interstate pipeline;
  • 23 miles of residue gas pipeline;
  • 15 miles of pipeline to carry fuel gas back to producers;
  • 42 miles of NGL pipeline;
  • 460 miles of gas gathering pipeline; and
  • 10 compressor stations.

About Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC
Tumbleweed Midstream, LLC is a privately held, independent natural gas gathering and processing company whose primary business is focused on the separation and production of liquefied helium, NGLs and residue gas from the incoming gas stream as well as the purification and liquefaction of crude helium from third parties. The company’s operations are centered at the Ladder Creek Helium Plant and Gathering System located near Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, just west of the Kansas-Colorado border. Tumbleweed Midstream is supported by capital commitments from the company’s management team and founders. For more information, please visit tumbleweedmidstream.com.

###

Media Contact:
TEN|10 Group
Bevo Beaven – bevo.beaven@ten10group.com
303.433.4397, x114 o – 720.666.5064 m

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Federal Appeals Court Tosses Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Station

1/7/2020

Source: AP

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has thrown out a permit needed by developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build a natural gas compressor station in a historic African American community in Virginia. 

The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for opponents of a proposal to build the station in Union Hill, an unincorporated community that was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.

Lead developer Dominion Energy said the compressor station would have far fewer air emissions and more air control monitoring than any other station in the country. But opponents argued that the State Air Pollution Control Board and Dominion did not carefully consider the project’s potential health effects on Union Hill residents.

During oral arguments before the 4th Circuit in October, lawyers for opponents of the project said the state failed to consider the “unequal treatment” of people who live near the proposed site for the compressor station. Opponents said they were concerned that exhaust from the station could cause harmful health effects on nearby residents, most of whom are African American.

Union Hill is in rural Buckingham County, about an hour’s drive west of Richmond.

During the October hearing, Deputy Solicitor General Martine Cicconi said the Air Pollution Control Board “absolutely grappled” with the issue of environmental justice and carefully considered any adverse health impacts on residents. She said the emissions will fall well below emissions from other compressor stations in Virginia and will meet national ambient air quality standards.

The pipeline, which would run 600 miles (965 kilometers) and carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina, has been mired in legal challenges by environmental and conservation groups. Construction has been halted since December 2018.

In its written ruling, the three-judge panel said it agreed with opponents that the board failed to assess the station’s potential for disproportionate health effects on the community of Union Hill. The panel also said it agreed that the board failed to consider electric turbines as zero-emission alternatives to gas-fired turbines in the compressor station.

The 4th Circuit panel sent the case back to the Air Pollution Control Board.

Dominion said it will immediately begin working with the state to resolve the issues identified by the court.

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FERC Approves Chesapeake Utilities Pipeline Expansion

1/7/2020

Chesapeake Utilities has announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an order approving the Company’s proposed Del-Mar Energy Pathway Project. 


The order, which was applied for in September of 2018 by Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company, Chesapeake Utilities’ interstate natural gas transmission subsidiary, approves the construction and operation of new infrastructure facilities in Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware, and Wicomico and Somerset counties in Maryland.

The project will add approximately 12 miles of natural gas infrastructure in Kent and Sussex counties and nearly seven miles of infrastructure in Wicomico and Somerset counties. Construction of the Del-Mar Energy Pathway Project is expected to commence within the first quarter of 2020. The estimated completion date will be the fourth quarter of 2021.

According to a recent study from the Regional Economic Studies Institute of Towson University, the infrastructure project would bring the following economic benefits to the region:

  • Direct employment – individuals who are directly associated with the construction project
  • In-direct employment – companies that benefit from increased demand and sales of their local services
  • Induced employment – increased revenue for local employers and more discretionary spending for local residents

“The FERC’s approval enables our Company to continue to meet the growing customer demand for natural gas service in the region,” said Jeff Tietbohl, Vice President of Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company. “This project further expands our partnership in the local communities in which we live and work, bringing natural gas service to Somerset County for the first time.”

Once in service, the new natural gas infrastructure will provide approximately 11.8 million cubic feet per day of additional natural gas firm transportation service and 2.5 million cubic feet of off-peak transportation service to Chesapeake Utilities’ natural gas distribution subsidiaries on the Delmarva Peninsula and one industrial customer.

The estimated cost of the project is approximately $37 million.


PIPELINE PROJECT SPOTLIGHT
Owner:
Phillips 66, Bridger Pipeline
Project:
Liberty Pipeline
Type:
Project includes construction of an oil pipeline from the Bakken and Rockies production areas to Corpus Christi, TX
Length:
~1,300 miles
Capacity:
350 Mbpd
Start:
NA
Completion:
4Q 2020
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Google and Amazon are now in the oil business

How new tech is boosting old energy.

By Adam Cole Jan 3, 2020, 8:30am EST

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have been very vocal about their efforts to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. But as the Wall Street Journal and Gizmodo have reported, these same companies are currently teaming up with the fossil fuel industry to help them squeeze as much oil and gas out of the ground as possible.

Oil has always been hard to find and hard to extract, and so the industry has teetered precariously on the edge of profitability several times throughout its history. Over and over again, experts have predicted that we’ll soon run out of accessible, affordable oil — but so far, they’ve been wrong. Just when things look bleakest for black gold, new technology swoops in to keep the industry afloat.

In the early days, that technology came in the form of better drills and pumps. As we explain in the video above, today’s technological savior is artificial intelligence. Computer algorithms that perpetually improve themselves can automate the discovery of new reserves and streamline fossil fuel extraction — a big boost for companies that now have to compete with wind and solar.

In 2018, the oil and gas industries spent an estimated $1.75 billion on AI — a sum that is projected to balloon to $4 billion by 2025. To get their piece of that pie, big tech companies are developing AI for oil companies, even as they publicly celebrate their sustainable initiatives.

We reached out to Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Total for comment on this piece. None of them responded.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And join the Open Sourced Reporting Network to help us report on the real consequences of data, privacy, algorithms, and AI.


Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.

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Oil prices spiked after U.S. air strikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian commander, heightening geopolitical tensions.

Oil Prices Surge After U.S. Air Strikes In Iraq

1/2/2020

Oil prices spiked after U.S. air strikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian commander, heightening geopolitical tensions.

Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed early on Friday in a U.S. air strike on their convoy at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon said

While equity markets turned lower, oil prices surged on news of Soleimani’s death, with global benchmark Brent crude shooting 3.02% higher to $68.25 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude jumping 2.75% to $62.86 per barrel.

News of the strikes came after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday there were indications Iran or forces it backs may be planning additional attacks after Iranian-backed demonstrators hurled rocks at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad following American strikes on Sunday against bases of the Tehran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group.

Esper warned that the “game has changed” and it was possible the United States might have to take preemptive action to protect American lives.

In currency markets, the dollar weakened as investors snapped up safe-haven Japanese yen but was flat against the Euro. The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.09% at 96.758.

— Reuters

Source Article: PG&J


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U.S. energy regulators approved Tellurian’s request to start site preparation work at its proposed $27.5 billion Driftwood LNG export project in Louisiana.

FERC OKs Site Prep for Driftwood LNG – Related Pipelines Proposed

Pipeline News

U.S. energy regulators approved Tellurian’s request to start site preparation work at its proposed $27.5 billion Driftwood LNG export project in Louisiana.The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said Driftwood could start vegetation clearing and grading, demolition and removal of existing buildings, and dredging of marine berths, among other activities.

The company plans to source natural gas from the Permian Basin to Driftwood via its proposed Permian Global Access Pipeline (PGAP), Tellurian said drew strong interest during an open season from West Texas natural gas producers seeking delivery to the rapidly growing natural gas market in Southeast Louisiana.

The $3.7 billion PGAP is a proposed 625-mile, 42-inch interstate natural gas pipeline originating at the Waha Hub in Pecos County, Texas, and terminating at Gillis, Louisiana, north of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Construction could begin as early as 2021, and the project could begin service as early as 2023 with a capacity of 2 Bcf/d.

PGAP is one of three proposed pipelines that would comprise the estimated $7.3 billion Tellurian Pipeline Network, which is integral to its planned $15.2 billion Driftwood LNG export project near Lake Charles.

The pipeline network also includes the proposed Haynesville Global Access Pipeline (HGAP) and the Driftwood Pipeline. HGAP would be a 200-mile, 42-inch pipeline with capacity to transport 2 Bcf/d to the same interstate pipelines near Gillis. The 96-mile, 48-inch Driftwood Pipeline would provide 4 Bcf/d transport from Gillis to the Driftwood LNG facility.

“With FERC’s approval, we are doing some preliminary work on the site,” Tellurian spokeswoman Joi Lecznar said in an email, noting “we have progressed to completing over 27% of our engineering, and we have ordered some equipment in order to prepare for construction.”

Driftwood is designed to produce 27.6 mtpa of LNG or about 3.6 Bcf/d of natural gas. Tellurian has said it plans to start building the liquefaction plant in early 2020 and produce the first LNG from the facility in 2023.

Driftwood is one of about a dozen LNG export projects in North America that said they could decide to build their plants in 2020. Together those plants, which analysts said will not all be built, would produce over 160 mtpa of LNG.

Several of those projects, including Driftwood, had previously said they could make that final investment decision in 2019.

The U.S.-China trade war and a global oversupply of the fuel that caused gas prices in Europe and Asia to fall made it difficult for several LNG developers to sign enough long-term customer agreements this year. Those agreements are needed to secure financing for their billion dollar projects.

Total world demand for LNG reached a record 316 mtpa in 2018 and is projected to soar by around 100 mtpa by 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Unlike most proposed U.S. LNG export projects that will liquefy gas for a fee, Tellurian is offering customers the opportunity to invest in a full range of services from production to pipelines and liquefaction.

– Reuters and P&GJ staff report


source article


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FERC Approves Construction of Four LNG Export Projects in Texas

11/21/2019

(Reuters) — The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday approved the construction of four proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in Texas totaling about 6.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of capacity. 

The projects are NextDecade Corp’s (NEXT.O) 3.6-bcfd Rio Grande, Cheniere Energy Inc’s (LNG.A) 1.5-bcfd Corpus Christi Midscale, Exelon Corp’s (EXC.O) 0.8-bcfd Annova LNG Brownsville and Texas LNG’s 0.3-bcfd Brownsville.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

“The Commission has now completed its work on applications for 11 LNG export projects in the past nine months, helping the United States expand the availability of natural gas for our global allies who need access to an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly fuel for power generation,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in a release.

The three Brownsville proposals (Rio Grande is a Brownsville plant) are to build greenfield projects along the Brownsville Ship Channel to receive gas from the nearby Permian and Eagle Ford shale basins and have faced concerns from environment and safety advocates.

To gain approval, the Brownsville projects have taken steps like pledging land for the preservation of endangered big cats – jaguarundis and ocelots – that live in the South Texas area.

All four of the projects approved Thursday have applications pending before the U.S. Department of Energy seeking authorization to export gas to countries without free trade agreements with the United States, FERC said.

They are just four of more than four dozen LNG export projects under development in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Including the projects under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 6.9 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 9.6 bcfd by the end of 2020 from 6.8 bcfd now.

That keeps the United States on track to become the third biggest LNG exporter in the world in 2019, behind Qatar and Australia, and the biggest supplier of the fuel in 2024.

So far this year, FERC has approved projects proposed by Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC; Driftwood LNG LLC; Port Arthur LNG LLC; Gulf LNG; Eagle LNG Partners Jacksonville LLC; Venture Global Plaquemines LNG LLC; and Freeport LNG’s Train 4 Expansion Project.

In addition, FERC said four projects are now pending before the

commission.

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Enbridge Recovers Debris from Line 5 in Straits of Mackinac

12/30/2019

Source: PG&J

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge Inc. said Monday that it retrieved a 45-foot steel rod that was resting against an underwater oil pipeline where lakes Michigan and Huron converge.

Enbridge Recovers Debris from Line 5 in Straits of MackinacRendering of the proposed Line 5 concrete tunnel with overhead ventilation and replacement pipeline at right. (source:Enbridge)

The debris had been at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac since September, when a borehole collapsedduring geotechnical work in advance of the construction of a tunnel to surround the Line 5 pipes. Enbridge deployed a remote-operated vehicle to remove the rod on Saturday night, said spokesman Ryan Duffy.

“Favorable weather conditions at the Straits in recent weeks prevented the water from icing over, providing Enbridge a window of opportunity to complete this work,” he said.

The rod had moved from its original position near the pipeline and was found resting on the west leg. It never posed a safety or environmental risk to Line 5, the water or ship traffic, Duffy said.

Enbridge Energy had been collecting rock and soil samples, which it finished Sept. 12 the Petosky News-Review reported. But the company did not report the incident to Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy until Nov. 19, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.

The collapse also caused a long piece of drill rod to become lodged beneath the lake bed, and a piece of the equipment to fall on top of the lake bed.

The tunnel would enclose the Straits of Mackinac’s portion of the 66-year-old pipeline, which is also known as Enbridge Line 5. It runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.

Ryan Duffy, Enbridge spokesman, said the two-months span between the date of the incident and the report were spent determining the best way forward.

PIPELINE PROJECT SPOTLIGHT
Owner:
Phillips 66, Bridger Pipeline
Project:
Liberty Pipeline
Type:
Project includes construction of an oil pipeline from the Bakken and Rockies production areas to Corpus Christi, TX
Length:
~1,300 miles
Capacity:
350 Mbpd
Start:
NA
Completion:
4Q 2020


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