The pipeline, being built by Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline, will run from the Pecos area to the Katy area, near Houston, transporting natural gas from the Permian Basin to various markets across Texas, as the pipeline cuts right through the hill country of Texas south of Austin.
“It’s a significant capacity takeaway for much needed natural gas transportation,” Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan vice president, public affairs said. “In crude extraction, natural gas is a byproduct, and if you don’t have a place to put it, the producers flare it.”
Initial construction activity is starting in the Pecos area before initial construction activity begins across the rest of the project, Fore said. They are currently doing survey staking, which Fore said is identifying a center line to construct the pipe, and that the actual earth-moving activity of installing the pipe underground would begin next month.
“The key part of it really is [natural gas] is going to have a place for it to go to,” Fore said. “If you don’t have a transportation mechanism it can potentially be flared away.”
Flaring is an environmental concern for many, and Fore said the installation of this pipeline would reduce the activity in the Permian Basin, while also providing more natural gas for power generation in Texas.
“If natural gas is the predominant source of fuel for power generation, that’s better than most of the alternatives, which are less clean burning,” Fore said.
Natural gas isn’t as clean as, say, solar power, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports burning natural gas for energy results in less emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide than burning coal or petroleum products.
In terms of economic benefits, Fore said this pipeline would generate between $2 billion and $3 billion a year in taxes and fees paid to the state, and would provide about 2,500 construction jobs and 18 permanent jobs upon completion. The counties the pipeline runs through would receive about $42 million a year, divided up amongst them, on an annual basis, much like a property tax payment.
There has been some controversy recently, particularly in the hill country region of Texas, as Kinder Morgan has been making many land acquisitions to clear the way for the pipeline. Fore said they can’t, and don’t, build their pipelines under homes, but that they do go on private property. This involves negotiating a price with the landowner, and then restoring that land to previous condition following construction.
Environment Texas Executive Director Luke Metzger is based in Austin, and said there’s been opposition to the project.
“I think if you just look from a climate perspective it’s clear that we need to get off of oil and gas as quickly as possible and we certainly shouldn’t be building new infrastructure which will just last for decades and will just perpetuate emissions,” Metzger said.
The pipeline has delivery points along the way, Fore said, and would enhance the natural gas supply for the broader Austin market, which he said would allow for the additional possibility for energy enhancement in the area.
“When you have additional supply coming into the region that allows for additional possibility for enhancement of energy in that area” Fore said. “Even if you’re not using it right now, the fact you could in the future is important for any type of development or otherwise.”
The pipeline is scheduled to be completed by next fall.