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Williams' Leidy Line Ruptures, But Capacity Intact

A section of Williams' Leidy Line, which delivers Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania to the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco), ruptured late Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of more than 100 nearby residents.

The pipeline failed at 9:40 p.m. EDT on a 24-inch diameter section of Leidy in Lycoming County, according to Williams. Company spokesman Chris Stockton said there was no fire and no injuries were reported. He added that volumes on the system have not been curtailed, with no impact to natural gas receipts or deliveries, as other lines in the area are being utilized to redirect the flow of gas.

A bidirectional system consisting of multiple pipes, the Leidy Line is capable of moving 3.5 Bcf/d of natural gas.

As a precaution, about 130 people were temporarily evacuated, according to local news media reports. That order was lifted, however, by midnight.

Residents in the area reported hearing a loud roaring sound when the pipeline failed. One of three pipes along the affected section, located in Jordan Township, ruptured. Stockton said he didn't yet have an estimate for when repairs could be complete. The system's emergency shutdown equipment "worked properly to quickly stop the flow of gas and isolate the affected section of the line," he said.

The Leidy line is considered a key outlet for Marcellus Shale gas in a bottleneck section of the play. It moves gas to the 10,200-mile Transco system, which runs from South Texas to New York City and has a peak capacity of 10.2 Bcf/d. About 1,000 miles of Transco are located in Pennsylvania, where the pipeline delivers one-third of all the gas consumed in the state, according to Williams.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration had started an investigation into the cause of the rupture by Thursday. Williams said it was unclear what caused the line to fail and added that it would "continue working closely with federal and state authorities to determine the cause of the incident and take necessary steps to ensure the operational integrity of our pipeline system."

The company also said pieces of pipe from the rupture would be sent to a lab for metallurgical testing to help determine the cause of the failure, which could take several months.

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