An explosion and fire triggered a force majeure on the Northern Natural Gas pipeline system in West Texas early Thursday morning. There were no injuries but the explosion apparently demolished one of two buildings housing the Kermit Compressor Station, which is in an isolated part of West Texas in Winkler County, Northern officials said. About 13 receipt points and 75 MMcf/d of supply were affected, according to a Northern Natural spokesman.

The Gas supply to the compressor station was cut off, and Northern was allowing the fire to burn itself out Thursday evening. An assessment of damage and repairs was scheduled to begin immediately after the fire was extinguished.

The gas that flows through the 30-inch diameter mainline will have to be routed to other pipelines in the area, the Northern spokesman said. However, the rupture will have no impact on Northern’s market deliveries. He said it was unclear what impact the outage might have on the market. The West Texas pipeline isn’t used heavily this time of year, he noted. The cause of the pipeline rupture and fire are under investigation.

Northern Natural Gas Co. is owned by Des Moines-based MidAmerican Holdings Co. The pipeline system was purchased from Dynegy last year after Dynegy won Northern under the terms of a loan agreement with Enron prior to Enron’s bankruptcy (see Daily GPI, Jan. 7, 2002).

Although it has a capacity to transport 3.8 Bcf/d, Northern usually moves about 2 Bcf/d in the shoulder months. The Northern system extends from West Texas to markets in the Upper Midwest.

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