Several Oklahoma landowners are pressing FERC to investigate what they say amounts to collusion involving an environmental compliance monitor, a Cheniere Energy Inc. pipeline subsidiary and the agency’s own Office of Energy Projects (OEP).

Central Land Consulting LLC (CLC), which represents landowners on right-of-way for the Midcontinent Subheader Interstate Pipeline (Midship), said in recent filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the contractor appeared to show bias in favor of Midship in recent environmental reports. 

“Some notes appear to be direct statements from Midship while others have been sugarcoated” with serious details left out, CLC President of Operations Nate Laps said in a filing on Tuesday. The environmental compliance monitor, Dan Beisner, is an employee of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which was selected by Midship as the third-party environmental compliance contractor for the pipeline, according to the filings.

Laps said his concerns were “rooted in direct violations” of the memorandum of understanding signed by FERC, Midship and ERM, which prohibits the natural gas pipeline owner from controlling the activities of the contractor. He also asked the Commission to “conduct an internal investigation into collusion between FERC’s OEP, Dan Beisner and Midship.”

A spokesperson for Cheniere told NGI that Midship is following FERC’s “effective and valuable process of using an independent, third-party monitor to document compliance with FERC’s environmental requirements. We have and will continue to engage with landowners and all other stakeholders and regulators in an ethical and collaborative manner.”

The accusations are the latest development in a long-standing feud between Midship and dozens of landowners on the right-of-way who have said the pipeline’s construction and subsequent restoration work have caused major damage to their properties over the years. That damage includes flooded fields, broken farm equipment and debris left behind by construction and restoration crews, according to filings.

In March, FERC ordered Midship to “take immediate action to remedy unresolved restoration issues on certain landowner tracts.”

But Midship missed the 60-day deadline required by FERC to restore all the tracts that needed to be addressed, and the war of words that has persisted for more than two years between CLC and Midship continued. In June, CLC filed a show cause petition to FERC requesting Midship give evidence on why it should not be fined daily civil penalties as long as the remaining tracts remained unrestored. 

Midship responded that it was taking the restoration work seriously, and accused CLC of chasing “inflated sums on the basis of exaggerated and unsubstantiated estimates for restoration activities.”

The 1.44 Bcf/d, 200-mile Midship pipeline was placed in service in 2020. It moves natural gas from the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly in Canadian and Kingfisher counties and the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province. The pipeline begins in Kingfisher County, OK, and terminates at interconnects with existing natural gas pipelines near Bennington, OK.

When it came online, the pipeline had precedent agreements with Marathon Oil Co., Gulfport Energy Corp. and Devon Gas Services, LP as foundation shippers for firm transportation totaling 850 MMcf/d, each for a minimum term of 10 years. Another 75 MMcf/d was subscribed by Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG export terminal.

A FERC spokesperson declined to comment.