At least two Baton Rouge-area plants, and probably several, have had to arrange new supplies of natural gas or reroute the fuel because a sinkhole in Assumption Parish closed the pipelines they normally use, a chemical industry official said Friday.
“One of the reasons it’s hard to pinpoint this is a lot of plants have more than one pipe coming into their operations,” Louisiana Chemical Association President Dan Borné said. “They get their natural gas from more than one supplier, and the suppliers can also reroute their gas depending on the capacity of various pipelines.”
Borné declined to name the plants affected.
The southern part of Louisiana is “a virtual megasite” when it comes to moving things underground, Borné said.
“That’s something that’s very positive for the state. There were ways to work around the issue, thank goodness,” he said.
On Aug. 3, the state Office of Conservation issued emergency orders to shut in pipelines owned by Crosstex Energy and Acadian Gas Pipeline System.
Crosstex has a 36-inch pipeline in the area, and Acadian has two 20-inch pipelines, according to the Office of Conservation emergency orders.
The office also issued warnings to Chevron Pipeline Co. and Occidental Chemical Co. that the companies might have to close their salt caverns and empty them of the gas stored there.
Chevron has begun doing just that, according to spokesman Gareth Johnstone. Chevron has no reason to believe that its facility, the Bridgeline NS1 storage cavern, is threatened, and there is no indication gas is leaking from the facility, Johnstone said. But Chevron is emptying the cavern as a precaution to ensure everything possible is done to protect the public.
Chevron is not saying how much gas is involved or which customers have been affected, Johnstone said.
However, Reuters has reported that Chevron may be dumping 4 billion to 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas on the market. The added gas has pushed September and October futures prices lower but could mean higher prices this winter when demand is higher.
Dallas-based Crosstex said its storage facilities in the Bayou Corne area have not been affected by the sinkhole, but closing the company’s pipeline affects 150 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to the river markets.
However, Crosstex spokeswoman Jill McMillan said the company has notified its customers of the closure, and they have arranged alternative supplies of gas.