Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Construction Advances on Flanagan South Pipeline Project

Construction Advances on Flanagan South Pipeline Project | Not first pipeline for area
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Charles Dunlap/Staff Writer

Enbridge Energy Company Inc. of Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, work on the Flanagan South Pipeline Project has advanced in Lafayette County over the recent weeks. Pipeline trenches, welding and laying of pipeline work has increased. Driving to the west or north of Concordia will find its pathway.

However, this is not the first pipeline to travel through Lafayette County or the Concordia area. The Flanagan South Pipeline Project will run parallel to the Spearhead pipeline, which was laid around 1951-1952 by the Sinclair Oil Corporation, headquartered in Utah. Enbridge completed purchase of Spearhead in 2005. According to Katie Lange, media representative for Enbridge, the two pipelines will be 50 feet apart from center line to center line.

"It's largely because of new linear infrastructure," said Kevin O'Connor, spokesperson for the Flanagan South Pipeline. "It follows the old line so there is less land disturbance, and so we're not creating a spaghetti bowl of lines.

O'Connor also said it is built in this manner for safety, since everyone knows where the lines are.

Spearhead can transport roughly 175,000 barrels of oil per day, whereas Flanagan will transport around 600,000 barrels per day. Spearhead originally transported oil from south to north. It, along with Flanagan, runs north to south. Both lines will transport heavy crude oil from Canada.

One area landowner said Enbridge is trying to be a good neighbor.

"They don't want to upset the neighbors. They've sprayed roads and areas to keep dust down from [digging], and they were instructed to drive slow to not create dust," said Doug Strahle.

Strahle was 9 years old when Spearhead was laid through his family's farmland.

"They put up some red flags to mark where the old pipeline is," he said.

Enbridge is helping area landowners through compensation for the dig and crop losses.

"Enbridge has paid fair market value for the land. We'll also pay for the crop loss, as well as over the next few years for loss of crop yield," said O'Connor.

Strahle said Enbridge will also do something with the land Sinclair didn't do 60 years ago.

"They're going to tamp the dirt this time when they replace the dirt," he said. "Tractors were small-er then and had difficulty moving on the land. It takes time for dirt to settle down."

The process for building the new pipeline began two years ago.

"We started the process two years ago. Enbridge is essentially a trucking company -- we move a product from point A to point B," said O'Connor.

Enbridge conducted feasibility studies for the pipeline. After that, according to O'Connor, an open season takes place with different oil companies who want to put a product on the line. Environmental, biological and agreements with state and federal agencies are also done.

"Construction is faster than the lead up to the project," added O'Connor.

Construction takes any- where between six to eight weeks including restoration, which includes replacing fencing, land, trees or grasses.

According to O'Connor, there have been a few individual landowners not pleased for one reason or another, but overall the project has the support of locals. The project is also supported by area chambers of commerce and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

According to Lafayette County Presiding Commissioner Harold Hoflander, approximately $600,00-$700,000 in revenue will be added to Lafayette's County's coffers when the new pipeline is running at full capacity.

"It's taxed as if it's real estate. I think there are 54 taxing entities in the county among ambulance districts, schools, libraries. Basically, any entity that can apply a levy," he said.

By Hoflander's estimation, Lafayette County schools will receive around 60 percent of the increased revenue.

The county has also received added tax benefits due to construction of the line.

"About $8.7 million per year for the life of the project beginning in the first year of operation will be added [to the economy]. That money then flows back out to the counties," said O'Connor. "Equipment purchases are adding about $24.6 million in sales tax for construction. The employees are staying in hotels, buying groceries, and finding places to do laundry."

"Motels in a 30-mile radius are full, and camping spots are taken," said Hoflander.

Flanagan will transport heavy crude because there has been more of a demand for it, according to O'Connor.

"Light crude is typically used for gasoline, and while heavy crude is used for making gasoline, it can also be refined into fertilizers, lipstick, plastics or fleece," he said.

It could be more stable for the country, and prices wouldn't fluctuate as much if the country gets oil from North America, added O'Connor.

"We as a society demand it. Refineries demand it. Our country runs on it. It's a big circle," he said.

The permit agreements for construction also stipulate continued maintenance of the line. According to O'Connor a fixed-wing plane flies the 600-mile length of the pipeline looking for any possible leaks or encroachments from someone building or digging near the line. The line is monitored by a control center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for drops in pressure or fluctuations in the flow. Other sensors look for anomalies in the pipe itself ranging from knicks, scratches or corrosion.

"We're excited to be underway and to be supplying more American crude. We're making sure, through regular inspections, that construction folks are doing what needs to be done by permit specifications, and all easement agreements with landowners are followed," concluded O'Connor.


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