A Louisiana congressman wants to meet with FERC Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur to discuss plans by American Midstream Partners LP to decommission the Midla pipeline, the latest of several lawmakers to voice opposition the shutdown.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, urged LaFleur to reject American Midstream's application to abandon the 88-year-old pipeline during a committee hearing on Thursday.
Last month, Denver-based American Midstream announced plans to abandon the Midla system after negotiations with customers over repairs to the pipeline broke down and the company didn't receive any interest in an open season (see Daily GPI, March 13). On March 28, the company filed an application [No. CP14-125-000] with FERC to abandon the pipeline.
In a letter to LaFleur on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) said Midla "plays an important role in providing affordable energy to many rural customers throughout northeast and central Louisiana." He also asked for a meeting with her to discuss American Midtsream's application.
"American Midstream contends that the age of the pipeline precluded the application of pipeline internal gauges [PIG] used to locate the weakest portion of the pipeline," Cassidy said. "American Midstream, in part, attempts to justify its abandonment application due to increased leaks and the company's inability to use PIGs to find or predict leakage.
"Abandoning the Midla pipeline would leave many Louisianans with limited energy options and could cause unreasonable rate increases. My understanding is that Midla customers have historically paid above-market rates to maintain structural integrity of the pipeline. Moreover, American Midstream predicts current customer rates would increase by 1,480% in order to fund a replacement of the pipeline."
LaFleur was one of four people on the first panel to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday. In her closing remarks, Landrieu repeated her opposition to American Midstream's plans.
"As we end this panel though, Chairman LaFleur, [let me] express to you in the strongest possible terms my opposition to the application filed at FERC by American Midstream to abandon the Midla pipeline," Landrieu said. "I know that you cannot comment on this publically, but I want to just call this to your attention.
"This gets back to the whole issue of getting fuel to people when they need it to keep the lights on. It's an extremely important issue for generators...and consumers."
Landrieu also wrote a letter to LaFleur on April 1 expressing her opposition to the plan (see Daily GPI, April 7).
The 370-mile Midla pipeline system was built in 1926, traverses Louisiana and Mississippi, and was designed to move gas from the then-prolific Monroe Gas Field in Ouachita Parish, LA, to a Standard Oil (now ExxonMobil Corp.) refinery in Baton Rouge, LA. In the early to mid-1970s, the system carried up to 300 MMcf/d. The mainline consists of 16- to 22-inch diameter pipe.