GREENSBURG – Many Decatur County residents have seen sites like those pictured with this article popping up along country roads throughout the county.
While the sites, which are just two tall posts with brightly colored flags strung between them, high voltage signs, and gravel parking spots may look mysterious, their reason for existence is even more mysterious. Or it was, before Daily News staff spoke with Decatur County Highway Superintendent Mark Mohr.
According to Mohr, the sites are part of the process of building a pipeline for a company called Enterprise Liquid Pipeline. The temporary sites are for construction workers to mark the pipeline’s route, and to provide temporary parking spots for workers so vehicles can stay off the road. The pipeline is expected to pass through Decatur, Dearborn, Franklin, Jennings, and Ripley counties on its way through Indiana. Mohr said the construction is expected to be completed before winter.
The portion of the pipeline that will pass through southern Indiana is just a small part of the 1,230 mile endeavor that will stretch from Appalachia to Texas, earning the pipeline the nickname of ATEX Express. The ATEX Express pipeline is designed to transport natural gas liquids (NGL) from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio to the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston.
The pipeline will carry and deliver ethane, a liquid gas which is valuable to petrochemical plants as a feedstock for producing ethylene, a basic building block for a wide range of plastics and other chemical products. The project also provides a much-needed takeaway pipeline capacity for the region, making possible the continued production of natural gas. As it is currently designed, the pipeline will provide 190,000 barrels per day (BPD), which will then be efficiently expanded to meet the increased demand for the valuable, clean-burning source of energy. The ATEX Express project is supported by long-term transportation agreements with shippers.
The northern portion of the pipeline will require the construction of 369 miles of 20-inch pipeline form Washington County, Pa. to Seymour, Ind., where it will then connect with an existing Enterprise pipeline. The existing pipeline currently transports refined products from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest. Upon completion of the project, that pipeline will be placed into ethane service and the flow direction will be reversed.
When the ATEX Express pipeline is completed, producers in the Appalachian Basin will be offered access to every ethylene plant in the continental United States. The low price of natural gas compared to crude oil has made ethane an attractive option as feedstock to petrochemical operators. As a result of the increased demand, there has been a significant increase in the number of expansion, conversion and construction projects designed to use ethane. Technological advances in the development of shale reserves have also helped ensure reliable supplies of ethane.
The pipeline will be buried at a minimum depth of three feet and will extend much deeper underground in some areas. Rather than interrupting road service, the pipeline will be drilled under the road. The path of the ATEX Express will be clearly marked with above-ground markers that bear contact information. Any residents whose property intersects with the pipeline will be required to call 811 before any digging takes place on or near the pipeline easement.
Enterprise Liquid Pipeline contacted landowners to negotiate easements, which provide the utility with limited use of the land, giving them the authority to construct, maintain, operate, repair and access the ATEX Express pipeline. They purchased the right of way rights to make the project possible. The route of the pipeline was determined by a professional survey team and was designed to minimize the impact on landowners, the environment and the communities that the pipeline passes through.
According to Mohr, Decatur County has very little to do with the pipeline aside from the location. Enterprise Liquid Pipeline, their contractor, Precision Pipeline, and the related crews have handled all the negotiations and work. Mohr said that Enterprise Liquid Pipeline signed a road usage agreement, meaning that the company is responsible for any damage to the road and surrounding areas.
Additionally, Enterprise Liquid Pipeline has agreed to stick to the approved route, go through the Highway Department for all local permits, call for a police escort anytime overweight or over-length vehicles travel on public roads, use flaggers any time crossing roads or affecting traffic and to bore under the roads rather than interrupting road use, according to Mohr.
The Decatur County Highway Department started working with Enterprise Liquid Pipeline late last fall. Several Highway Department employees monitor the daily progress of the construction and check for any damage to the roadways and surrounding areas. Mohr said it has fallen to the Highway Department to ensure that pipeline construction workers comply with the agreement.
Mohr said that some damage will be unavoidable, especially with changing conditions in soil and weather, but will be repaired by the contracting company before they leave the area. He went on to say that it is likely a short-term fix will be done for any damage until the project is completed, at which time a permanent repair will be made, pending the final approval from the Highway Department.
Any private landowners that are having issues with the pipeline construction crews and damage are urged to contact Mohr at 812-663-2682. He will get the landowner in touch with the proper person at Enterprise Liquid Pipeline to ensure that repairs are made in a timely and efficient manner.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004