Columbia Gulf Transmission (CGT) declared a force majeure event after a tornado struck its Hartsville (TN) Compressor Station about 11:17 p.m. CST Tuesday and caused a fiery explosion. Customers were being kept whole Wednesday by use of storage supplies, but all production-area receipts were suspended until further notice, pipeline spokesman Kelly Merritt said.

In an update posting sent shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, Columbia Gulf said it was continuing to evaluate the extent of damages sustained at the facilities, including to Lines 100, 200 and 300 through the station. “Based on the information obtained this morning, it appears that CGT will be able to commence flow around the station sometime during the current gas day [Wednesday],” the posting said. “Customers are encouraged to monitor the EBB [electronic bulletin board] with specific emphasis on the capacity at the Delhi Constraint Point to assess the mainline capacity available as a result of this incident.”

The pipeline will continue to use storage to meet delivery obligations as long as possible, and it hopes to keep customers whole until flows through Hartsville can be resumed, Merritt said.

There was “severe damage” to the station 45 miles northeast of Nashville, he went on. The station has a bypass valve, but Columbia Gulf must make sure that it’s safe to operate Lines 100, 200 and 300 through the station before opening the valve, he said.

The trading representative for some independent Gulf Coast producers confirmed that Columbia Gulf was not accepting gas Wednesday from the receipt point his company uses in North Louisiana. He said he had to scramble to adjust nominations affected by the Columbia Gulf outage.

The fire was subsequently contained, and since the station was unmanned there were no fatalities. However, homes in the immediate neighborhood were evacuated as a safety precaution.

Due to the Hartsville force majeure, effective Thursday Columbia Gulf’s capacity through the Delhi constraint point in northeast Louisiana will be decreased to 1,200,000 Dth/d. The pipeline also will reduce delivery capacity to Texas Eastern-Adair to 100,000 Dth/d Thursday until further notice.

The tornado that hit the compressor station was one of a series of such storms in four Southern states Tuesday that killed more than 40 people. An Associated Press report quoted a Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman as saying that while the station was still ablaze, “these flames [were] shooting 400, 500 feet in the air.”

Columbia Gulf has a system capacity of 2.1 Bcf/d but was flowing less than 100% of that at the time of the blast, the spokesman said.

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