A branch of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) has appealed to federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials regarding the need for upgrades and re-routing parts of a natural gas pipeline delivery system serving recreational areas in the state’s western slope region.

“The Rifle to Avon Pipeline is a critical delivery mechanism for natural gas to Aspen, Avon, Basalt, Carbondale, Breckenridge, Frisco and numerous other municipalities where winter tourism and mountain lifestyles are hugely dependent on continued delivery of affordable, reliable [energy],” said David Ludlum, executive director of COGA’s West Slope Chapter.

Ludlam wrote the BLM Colorado River Field Office supporting plans by a SourceGas Holdings LLC unit to re-route part of the existing pipeline from its easement to public lands. He argued that the change “will avoid future supply/delivery challenges to mountain communities that would in turn impact tourism, ski seasons and general mountain living.

“By moving the pipeline, the BLM can help prioritize maximizing safety and reducing impacts to the town of Eagle, CO,” he said.

SourceGas is proposing to replace a section of 12-inch diameter gas transmission pipeline by re-routing it through a less densely populated area, according to Ludlam. “The new pipe will have the same diameter but will be a heavier wall thickness,” he said.

The thicker wall would allow the Rifle-to-Avon pipeline to operate at higher pressure up to 1,200 psig and to return to its former high design capacity. However, Ludlam said the new pipe would have a lower allowed operating pressure of 900 psig because of the changed class location for the pipe corridor going through Eagle.

“While modern, technologically advanced pipeline systems are safe, [COGA] believes relocating the pipeline right-of-way out of an occupied subdivision, and onto public lands, is the most appropriate course of action,” Ludlam told BLM.

In July, South Dakota-based Black Hills Corp. agreed to acquire SourceGas Holdings LLC for $1.89 billion, adding 425,000 natural gas utility customers in four states and a 512-mile intrastate gas transmission pipeline in Colorado (see Daily GPI, July 13).

SourceGas owns Rocky Mountain Natural Gas LLC (RMNG), an intrastate transmission pipeline company serving the western slope with about 550 miles of pipelines, a gas processing plant, a second nonoperated plant and multiple compression facilities.

RMNG pipes serve the Piceance, Pardox and Sand Wash Basins, providing both on- and off-system deliveries. The transmission pipeline has interconnections with five major pipelines and various producers. The pipeline include TransColorado, CIG, Questar, Northwest Pipeline Co. and Xcel Energy Public Service Company of Colorado.