July 02, 2014 - As crews work to replace one energy pipeline that runs beneath the ground through Oxford and Addison townships, there are plans to construct another one along this same route and potentially have it operational in Michigan by 2017.
On June 26, the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) announced via press release that its board of directors approved building an interstate pipeline to transport natural gas from processing facilities in the Marcellus and Utica shale areas located in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
"The production that's coming out of the Marcellus and the Utica shales needs to get to market," explained ETP Spokesperson Vicki Granado in a June 27 phone interview. "Right now, there's just not enough capacity to get all that natural gas from those shales to market. That is the reason for constructing this pipeline."
Granado explained ETP functions as an energy transporter.
"We're driven by the production of natural gas," she said. "We follow where the natural gas is."
The proposed pipeline, which is called the Rover Pipeline, would include approximately 365 miles of mainline pipe running through Ohio and Michigan, plus an additional 15 miles of mainline pipe that would extend across the U.S./Canada border to the Union Gas Dawn Hub in Ontario.
"We're going to be servicing several markets, all throughout the Midwest, down to the Gulf Coast and then, potentially, up through into Canada," Granado said.
In addition to hundreds of miles of new pipeline, compression and metering stations would need to be built along the route, according to ETP.
In Oxford and Addison, the proposed Rover Pipeline route appears to run parallel to Enbridge's Line 6B, a pipeline that transports crude oil from Griffith, Indiana to Sarnia in Ontario, Canada.
Since May, Enbridge has been working to replace the 30-inch pipeline that's been in place since the late 1960s. It plans to have the new one finished by the end of August and tied in by the end of September.
"Our whole line doesn't parallel (Enbridge's) line, but some parts of it do," Granado said.
In Oxford, Granado said the proposed route has the Rover Pipeline running approximately 2.3 miles north of the intersection of M-24 and Burdick St. That puts it right by where the Enbridge pipeline crosses M-24.
Granado indicated the goal is to have the proposed Rover Pipeline servicing the Midwest Hub near Defiance, Ohio and the Gulf Coast markets by the fourth quarter of 2016.
"It would be in service to remaining markets, which would include Michigan and Canada, potentially, by the second quarter of 2017," she said.
Oxford Twp. Supervisor Bill Dunn was unaware of the proposed Rover Pipeline.
"I haven't heard a thing about it," he said.
Addison Supervisor Bruce Pearson learned of it when he received a letter from ETP because it appears the project would go right through his homestead property along Noble Rd.
"I got a letter in the mail two days ago that asks me to (give) permission for them to come out and start doing their surveying on my property," Pearson said. "I haven't sent that back yet because I want to know more about this."
Pearson is no stranger to pipelines as Enbridge's Line 6B runs through his land as well as another company's natural gas line.
Nevertheless, he was still "shocked" when he found out about the proposed Rover Pipeline. He contacted ETP and was told by a representative the pipeline is still in the "preliminary stage" and "they're probably two years away from doing it." He was also told the Rover Pipeline would be "going right next to" the Enbridge pipeline, "but they might have to buy more right-of-way" from landowners in order to accommodate it.
"I didn't get a whole lot out of him," Pearson said.
To help inform the public about the project, the Houston-based ET Rover Pipeline, the ETP subsidiary that's handling this project, is hosting 10 open houses throughout Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia from July 8-15.
Three will be held in Michigan.
The first will take place at the Fenton Township Hall (12060 Mantawauka Dr.) in Genesee County on Monday, July 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The other two open houses will take place on Tuesday, July 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Comfort Inn & Village Conference Center (1645 Commerce Park Dr.) in Chelsea (Washtenaw County) and at the Lois Wagner Memorial Library (35200 Division Rd.) in Richmond (St. Clair County).
Pearson plans to attend the Richmond open house and report what he learns to the Addison Township Board. He said so far, three residents have contacted him or his office about the proposed pipeline.
"I'm going to go over there and find out what they're talking about," he said. "It directly affects me, too."
Project information, including a schedule and maps depicting the proposed pipeline's route, will be available at these open houses. Representatives from ET Rover Pipeline will also be present to answer questions, explain project details and receive public comments.
Granado noted nothing concerning the Rover Pipeline, from its route to its size, has been finalized or approved.
"There may be some adjustments as we go through the process," Granado said. "Again, this is all just proposed."
Before the Rover Pipeline project can move forward it must receive approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the lead federal agency responsible for conducting environmental reviews of interstate pipeline construction.
"We've started the pre-filing process with FERC," Granado said.
State agencies must also okay the project.
"We'll have to get all the proper approvals," Granado said.
According to a press release regarding the Rover Pipeline, current plans are for it to be large enough to transport 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.
However, if the demand from natural gas shippers proves to be greater than anticipated, the proposed pipeline could be expanded to transport up to 3.25 billion cubic feet per day, according to the ETP.
The Leader's sister newspaper, The Citizen in Ortonville, reported last week the Rover Pipeline, which is proposed to run through Groveland and Brandon townships as well, will be 42 inches in diameter.
"That's one of the options that we're looking at," Granado said. "We won't know that until we finish what is called an 'open season.'"
An open season is a period during which natural gas shippers contract for capacity on the pipeline. The open season began June 27.
The number of shippers who contract for capacity determines how much natural gas will be flowing through the line and the size of the pipe needed to accommodate that flow, according to Granado.
"Initial thoughts are that it could be a 42-inch line, but again, we won't know any of those specifics until after the open season," she said.
According to the press release, ETP has already "signed long-term agreements with multiple shippers" and is "in negotiations with numerous other shippers who have expressed a desire to contract for capacity in the open season."
The three largest shippers on the project are American Energy-Utica LLC, Antero Resources Corporation and Range Resources Corporation.
If the Rover Pipeline becomes a reality, Pearson hopes ETP will be as easy to work with as Enbridge has been during the current Line 6B project.
"I will say that Enbridge has been awfully good to me," he said. "If I have a problem or one of my resident's has a problem, I just call them up and I say, 'Go make it right.' And they do. They never argue with me."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.