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Enterprise NatGas Plant Explosion in Mississippi Shutters 400 MMcf/d

An investigation is continuing into the cause of an explosion late Monday that has shuttered an Enterprise Products Partners LP natural gas processing complex in Pascagoula, MS.

No injuries were reported at the facility, of which Enterprise assumed ownership and operations June 1 from BP plc. The Pascagoula plant is comprised of three trains with nameplate capacity of 1.5 Bcf/d.

"We had been averaging about 400 MMcf/d," Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey told NGI. The plant is shut-in and "it's premature to speculate" on the restart date. "It's still a response situation. " While the situation was under control, "a couple of small flares" were burning at midday Tuesday caused by residual gas vapor being burned off. Enterprise is working with its customers and third-party operators to reroute supplies, he said. Customers are being apprised of "available options while the Pascagoula plant is out of service."

Two Enterprise employees who were on site were sealed inside an explosion-proof room and reportedly unhurt. No evacuations were ordered nor were there impacts to the surrounding community, Rainey said. The fire was restricted to inside the facility.

Destin, the primary pipeline serving the facility, has connections to other third-parties, and "we're working with our customers to help them meet their needs," Rainey said.

Destin on Tuesday declared a force majeure and said it "has been and continues to be unable to provide gas transportation service from all of its offshore receipt points." The 225-mile pipeline carries Gulf of Mexico gas to the Pascagoula plant and then travels north, where it connects with nine interstate gas pipelines.

Destin was evaluating the possibility of offering shippers an option for an alternate flow from Main Pass 260 to the Viosca Knoll Gathering System, which is a 125-mile, 1 Bcf/d system.

According to Genscape Inc., roughly 550 MMcf/d of Destin's offshore production was shut in by the plant's outage. The Pascagoula straddle plant has "about 135 MMcf/d of shrink, meaning dry gas outlet volumes have been averaging roughly 415 MMcf/d prior to the explosion."

Destin could reroute gas to the Viosca Knoll system, but otherwise, "there do not appear to be any alternative outlets for production gas," Genscape analysts said. "During a force majeure event in July 2013 at the Pascagoula plant, no other offshore pipes appeared to pick up shut-in gas from Destin. That event resolved in two days and nominations resumed."

The High Point System, which runs from the offshore to the Toca Gas Processing Plant in Louisiana, "is nearby, but it does not appear that there is any connectivity between the two pipelines," Genscape said. The Gulf South system is connected to the Pascagoula plant, "though none of Gulf South's offshore production is dependent on Pascagoula" and it has "ample gas processing capacity throughout Louisiana."

Destin onshore gas transportation service was not affected and normal operations were continuing.

Earlier this month, Destin said it was resuming "normal offshore operations" to Pascagoula after planned maintenance at the plant by the operator. The plant had been closed for about a month before restarting two weeks ago.

As to what may have caused the incident, Rainey was unaware of any events that were scheduled before the incident. "As we transition from a response to an investigation mode, then all of that will come to light," he said.

Area residents had described hearing more than one explosion close to midnight, which some said they heard 10 miles away. All of those reports are "only speculation," Rainey said. "We're still trying to piece together what happened, and I would be hesitant to confirm or deny how many explosions."

The incident was under control early Tuesday, and firefighters were allowing a small fire to burn all of the gas out of the plant.

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