By Chris Day
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Payne County’s economy and tax base should get a boost soon as Enbridge Energy Co., Inc. starts building the Flanagan South Pipeline in Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Flanagan South Pipeline will move oil from producers in North Dakota and western Canada to Cushing. Enbridge has a storage capability of 20 million barrels of storage. From Cushing, it can be transported via the Seaway Crude Pipeline System to Gulf Coast refineries or the Ozark Pipeline to Midwest refineries.
The pipeline is being built in four spreads — roughly 100 to 150 miles in length. U.S. Pipeline, Inc. is the contractor for spread four, which runs from Mound City, Kan., to Cushing. Spread Four will pass through Washington, Osage, Pawnee and Payne counties, Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little said.
Little, senior manager, U.S. Public Affairs Liquids Operations & Projections, said U.S. Pipeline, Inc. will supply approximately 50 percent of the workforce needed for pipeline construction. The remaining trades workers will come from the area labor force.
The trades usually associated with pipeline construction are laborers, operators, teamsters and welders.
“Our contractors will be or are already in the process of working with the local union halls to acquire the type of skills they will need in order to construct the project,” Little said.
Construction on the first three spreads started in August. Construction on the fourth spread is expected to start by Oct. 1. Oil should start flowing through the Flanagan South Pipeline in mid-2014. Initially it will transport 600,000 barrels per day.
Little joined NewsPress Associate Editor Chris Day in the NewsPress studio for a webisode of the paper’s “Conversations With ...” public affairs program. The complete webisode is available at www.stwnewspress.com or the paper’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/stwnewspress.
Here are some excerpts from Little’s interview.
What’s next in the pipeline progress?
“... (People) will see a lot activity, a lot of construction activity, some hiring and lots of local business. We want to make sure people are prepared for that.”
Why is this pipeline needed?
“We have an interesting and neat thing going on in North America. We have the opportunity to be energy independent. ... There are resources up in northern Alberta (Canada) called the Alberta oil sands and Enbridge also transports a lot of light, sweet crude oil out of the Bakken formation in North Dakota. Because of production areas like that and technology has improved so much that it is economical to pull out those resources, we are able to look toward being energy independent. Enbridge is undergoing a variety of different expansions throughout its system in order to provide access to refineries or to customers for that crude oil. We are increasing the capacity on our pipeline system to pull oil out of Alberta and oil out of the Bakken formation for shippers or customers who are excited to access that product because it is secure, reliable North American crude oil.”
Has their been an estimate on the economic impact the pipeline project is going to have?
“In addition to paying increased property taxes as a result of the new infrastructure that is going in the ground, communities will also see lots of local business. In other words, the people who are working on the project will be buying gas, staying in local campgrounds and hotels and eating at local restaurants. The communities along the route will certainly see an increase in economic activity during construction.”
How are pipelines constructed and maintained to minimize leaks and spills?
“Flanagan South will be built with the latest technology. The latest technology in making steel and the pipeline better at the mills — the same mills we work with all the time on our pipeline projects. They know what our quality standards are. We go back to them and say, ‘We need a 36-inch pipe for Flanagan South.’ They know what our standards are. What our wall thicknesses are. We have fusion-bonded epoxy coating that’s applied right at the factory. It’s an external corrosion inhibitor. It’s the latest in coating technology.
“The pipeline also is built with valves at various intervals along the pipeline route. ... If there is an emergency or any kind of a leak occurs, those valves can be closed to reduce the flow of oil. Our entire pipeline system is actually monitored by our control center in Edmonton, Alberta. That control center monitors every mile of every Enbridge pipeline.
“If it sees any type of anomaly or any dip in pressure, they can shut the line down from Edmonton. Then, the local Enbridge person here in Oklahoma who will go out and take a look and visually see if there is an issue or if everything is just fine. All of those aspects will be at play here on the new pipeline as well.”