Gas pipeline set to be replaced; Service for Woodville still in question

Published 12:19 am Thursday, October 9, 2014

NATCHEZ — The company that once sought to abandon the only gas line into the Miss-Lou announced Thursday it would instead replace a portion of the line.

Even with the announcement, however, gas service to the Town of Woodville remains in question.

American Midstream Midla had announced earlier this year its intention to abandon the Midla pipeline, a 1920s-vintage project running from Monroe to Baton Rouge. The company said at the time the age of the pipeline raised significant safety concerns.

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The announcement prompted concern from municipalities and energy companies along the Midla line, afraid they would lose natural gas access without the pipeline’s continued operation. The Louisiana Legislature even passed a law changing how pipelines can be abandoned in the state in response to the panic.

AMM announced Wednesday, however, it has an agreement in principle to  replace the 8-inch pipeline from Winnsboro to Natchez with a 12-inch pipeline.

Those not served by the new Natchez line will be will be connected to other interstate or intrastate pipelines, other gas distribution systems, or offered conversion to propane service, the company said.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, who serves on the Louisiana Municipal Gas Association’s executive committee, said the new pipeline will come online in between two and two-and-a-half years and customers should not see significant price increases.

“We continue to be able to furnish natural gas to consumers and businesses and industries,” he said. “If not for the line, the municipalities would have had to go to propane, which would have cost a lot more in money and price.”

Copeland said Concordia Parish Economic Development and Natchez Inc. both requested the wider gas pipeline during the negotiations.

“This pipeline is our lifeline to industrial recruitment,” Copeland said. “The 12-inch line will allow for higher volumes, and that will give us the ability now to recruit major industry that is dependent on natural gas.”

While the communities served by the LMGA that won’t be on the reconstructed line will be given alternative hookups, Woodville is still looking for a permanent solution.

Woodville Mayor Gary D’Aquilla said the community is in negotiations to rectify the situation, but he was not at liberty to discuss who or what might be done.

“We don’t have anything worked out right now,” he said.

Wednesday’s announcement by AMM is still subject to approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.