Lone Star NGL LLC has started up the second natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionator at its Mont Belvieu, TX, facility. Lone Star Frac II is a 100,000 b/d fractionator that brings Lone Star’s total fractionation capacity at Mont Belvieu to 200,000 b/d. Lone Star is a joint venture of Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) and Regency Energy Partners LP. The fractionators receive NGLs from several sources, including Lone Star’s west Texas NGL pipelines and ETP’s Justice NGL pipeline. Volumes transported on Lone Star’s pipeline system and the ETP Justice pipeline continue to ramp up as shippers under long-term agreements with Lone Star and ETP increase their production from the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale, and other producing regions, the companies said.

Service has begun on the Texas Express natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline from Skellytown, TX, to the NGL fractionation and storage complex in Mont Belvieu, TX. The Texas Express Pipeline, operated by Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD), gives producers in West and Central Texas, the Rocky Mountains, southern Oklahoma, the Midcontinent and the Denver-Julesburg basin takeaway capacity for growing NGL volumes and improved access to the largest NGL trading hub, located along the Gulf Coast. Partners in the project are EPD, Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP), Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) and DCP Midstream Partners LP (DPM). NGL volumes from the Rockies, Permian Basin and Midcontinent regions will be transported to the Texas Express mainline through Enterprise’s Mid-America Pipeline system between the Conway hub and its Hobbs facility in Gaines County, TX. NGL volumes from the Denver-Julesburg Basin will be transported to Texas Express by the Front Range Pipeline (owned by a joint venture comprised of Enterprise, APC and DPM, each with a one-third interest), which is under construction and expected to be in-service during the first quarter. Supported by long-term contracts, the 583-mile pipeline has an initial capacity of 280,000 b/d and can be expanded to 400,000 b/d.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will convene a panel to investigate a death on an offshore platform Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico. The platform is more than 55 miles south of Louisiana. Peter Jorge E. Voces was working on the Vermilion Block 200 A Platform, which is operated by Energy Resource Technology/Talos Energy LLC, when he fell into the water. Voces was a member of a derrick barge crew that was dismantling the platform. The panel will include BSEE inspectors, investigators and engineers from both the Gulf of Mexico region and headquarters in addition to a representative from the U.S. Coast Guard. Last summer, an Energy Resource Technology well about 74 miles southwest of Port Fourchon, LA, experienced a natural gas leak (see Daily GPI, July 15).

After a nearly three-year delay, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is preparing to begin a well inspection program before the end of the year. On Feb. 5, 2011, the DEP adopted a mechanical integrity assessment (MIA) program, which requires that operators inspect the mechanical integrity of their wells on a quarterly basis and file their reports with to the DEP once a year. But the plan was put on hold to give the DEP more time to implement an electronic system to manage the reports. “The requirement was adopted, but DEP had to sort out some issues,” DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz told NGI’s Shale Daily on Tuesday. “To get that much data coming through the door, we have to have a way to manage all of it and be able to review it on a timely basis. It was more of a time management issue on our end. For the past two years, since the regulation was adopted, DEP had been working towards finalizing the annual report forms, training operators on conducting the inspection and filling out the form, and training DEP staff members on processing the form. It was a necessary process to be able to appropriately record and assess the well integrity data.”

With or without proposed federal energy reforms, Mexico holds increased prospects and challenges for San Diego-based Sempra Energy, which is eyeing more pipeline work, expansion into natural gas liquids (NGL) and the hurdle of increased taxes by the Mexican federal government. Sempra CEO Debra Reed and other senior executives outlined expanded opportunities for their already substantial Mexico operations as part of a 3Q2013 earnings conference call Tuesday. The company reported higher net income but reduced profits in Mexico, due mostly to the creation earlier this year of Mexican subsidiary IEnova. After Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) aborted a competitive bidding process to build a second phase of its Los Ramones Pipeline, Sempra is negotiating with the Mexican oil/natural gas company to take a share of the $1 billion, 275-mile project (see Daily GPI, Oct. 16).

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) senior executives admitted Wednesday that the utility has dropped the ball in keeping state regulators informed of its efforts to upgrade the safety of its natural gas pipeline network. But they argued that at no time has the system’s safety been compromised. PG&E CEO Tony Earley late Wednesday asked the utility’s board of directors audit committee to review the latest assertions from California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) officials alleging “dishonesty” and “attempts to conceal” information by PG&E top management (see Daily GPI, Nov. 6). Stinging from rebukes this week from one of the five CPUC members and the head of the CPUC safety division, Earley said the criticisms were not based on safety issues but rather “compliance” issues. In that regard, he said PG&E has to do a better job of keeping the CPUC informed.

A district court judge in Utah Monday overturned a Bush-era resource management plan (RMP) that opened more than 4,200 miles of dirt roads and trails in part of the state to off-road vehicles. The RMP by the Bureau of Land Management‘s (BLM) Richfield, UT, office was challenged by a coalition of conservation groups led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and Earthjustice, which argued that the BLM plan threatened well-known Southern Utah wilderness landscapes like the Dirty Devil Canyon complex (including Butch Cassidy’s infamous hideout, Robber’s Roost), the Henry Mountains (the last mountain range to be mapped in the Lower 48 states), and Factory Butte.

Phillips 66 is planning to expand its midstream business with a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) export terminal to be built at its existing marine terminal in Freeport, TX, the Houston-based company said. “We are looking at a rapidly changing energy landscape that presents excellent opportunities in the natural gas liquids (NGL) piece of our Midstream business,” said Tim Taylor, executive vice president, Phillips 66 Commercial, Marketing, Transportation and Business Development. “A liquefied petroleum gas terminal downstream of our Sweeny complex [at Old Ocean, TX] supports our growth strategy in Midstream and builds on our strong record of operating excellence, and there are attractive markets outside of the United States for products like butane and propane.” The proposed LPG export terminal would provide 4.4 million barrels per month of LPG export capacity, “the equivalent of eight very large gas carriers,” and would utilize existing Phillips 66 midstream, transportation and storage infrastructure to supply petrochemical, heating and transportation markets globally, the company said.

Black Elk Energy and certain of its contractors failed to follow safety rules, resulting in the fatal fire and explosion on the company’s platform in the Gulf of Mexico nearly a year ago, according to an investigative report released by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the United States Coast Guard. The explosion resulted in the deaths of three contract workers and serious injuries to three other workers on the Black Elk facility, which was located 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, LA, in about 56 feet of water. Black Elk is headquartered in Houston (see Daily GPI, Nov. 19, 2012).