NiSource Midstream Services launched a $150 million investment in a new natural gas gathering pipeline to support continued Marcellus shale production in western Pennsylvania.
The Big Pine Gathering System involves the construction of a combination 20- and 24-inch gathering line that extends approximately 55 miles through Butler, Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland counties. An additional approximately 15 miles of an existing pipeline in parts of Allegheny county will be repurposed for the project.
The system will gather natural gas from area Marcellus shale producers to existing interstate pipelines in the area, and provide an initial capacity of up to 425 million cubic feet per day with interconnects to multiple interstate pipelines.
Much of the new gathering line will utilize existing pipeline rights of way in order to reduce impacts on local landowners, resources and the environment. Right of way preparation and clearing is already in process. Tree removal was completed by April 1, 2012 to comply with federal Endangered Species Act requirements.
Construction is anticipated to begin in late summer 2012, with an expected in-service date of December 2012.
Long-Term, Economic Growth
The Big Pine Gathering System investment means jobs and economic development for Pennsylvanians. This investment also furthers the safe development, processing and transportation of Marcellus shale gas, helping to build on a significant economic driver for Pennsylvania and the surrounding region.
We believe pipeline safety begins long before natural gas begins flowing. From basic design to selection of materials, construction plans, operational plans and monitoring requirements, safety is our top priority. The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has been notified of the project and will be conducting safety inspections and oversight.
To help ensure safety and reliability, the system will be hydrostatically pressure tested at 1.5 times the anticipated Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure for a period of eight hours prior to being placed in service. The new line will be constructed, tested and maintained in compliance with federal pipeline safety requirements and leading industry standards.
Pipeline Construction Process
Survey crews will flag the boundaries of the construction right of way. The right of way is then cleared of vegetation and graded in accordance with environmental regulations, where appropriate.
Work activities will begin with removing and storing top soil where necessary and then crews will begin to dig the trench for the new pipeline. The pipe is generally installed with about three feet of ground cover in accordance with PHMSA safety requirements. Safety fencing is installed, where appropriate, to keep work areas safely isolated from the public.
Sections of the pipe are strung along the right of way next to the trench and welded together by qualified welders followed by industry-leading inspection to verify/confirm weld integrity. Once inspected, the pipeline is lowered into the trench and tested to a pressure higher than normal operating conditions.
The final step is land restoration. Restoration crews will restore the right of way to near original conditions, which typically requires reseeding, and in some cases the replanting of trees and/or shrubs. Nearly all signs of construction are covered with grass and plant growth after the next growing season.
Pipeline safety markers with emergency contact information are placed within the right of way as visible indication that a pipeline is in service in the area. The right of way is kept clear of structures and large woody vegetation (trees and large shrubs) to help facilitate the surveying and monitoring of the pipeline right of way
For more information on the project, please call our toll-free phone number at 1-888-499-3450.
Forward-looking Statement Disclaimer