A Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) investigation has found a unit of Enterprise Products Partners LP as well as C&H Power Line Construction of Oklahoma to be at fault for a June 7 pipeline explosion and fire in the Barnett Shale of North Texas that killed one worker and injured eight.

The RRC found that Enterprise failed to adequately respond to an inquiry by C&H about pipeline in the area where it was excavating. The commission also found that C&H "was not sure the area of excavation was clear and failed to give the notification center a second notice prior to excavation activities," the RRC said.

Enterprise unit Enterprise Products Operating LLC faces a penalty of as much as $140,000. Of that, $40,000 is for code violations. The remaining $100,000 is a "penalty enhancement." If Enterprise chooses to settle with the commission, its total penalty would be reduced to $120,000.

"Enterprise is currently evaluating the findings in the recently released report, after which the company will decide how to proceed," a spokesman said. "Enterprise has a comprehensive training program in place and will determine what, if any, enhancements should be made to its procedures as part of the company's ongoing commitment to safety and complying with appropriate regulatory requirements."

C&H faces a penalty of up to $26,000. Of that, $1,000 is for failing to ensure the excavation area was clear and to give notice. The remaining $25,000 is an enhancement. If C&H settles with the commission its total penalty would be reduced to $25,500. However, the Star-Telegram reported that the company plans to challenge the RRC findings.

The incident happened in Johnson County on the afternoon of June 7 (see Daily GPI, June 8). Three fatalities were originally reported, but that number was later reduced to one (see Daily GPI, June 9).

In July Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, testified that the pipeline was not properly marked when it was struck by the C&H crew (see Daily GPI, July 6).

The affected North Texas pipeline is a 36-inch diameter, 395-mile segment from the Waha Hub in West Texas to the Carthage Hub in East Texas. The pipeline has the capacity to transport approximately 800 MMcf/d. Enterprise owns a 50% interest in and operates the segment.

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