Northwest Pipeline to route gas line around Kemmerer coal mine

Northwest Pipeline GP is pursuing a FERC approval for a gas pipeline re-location project that would get the pipeline out of the way of future coal mining at Westmoreland Coal’s (NasdaqGM: WLB) Kemmerer strip mine in Lincoln County, Wyo.

Westmoreland in January bought the Kemmerer mine, which supplies coal to the nearby Naughton power plant of PacifiCorp, from Chevron Mining. On March 29, Northwest filed an application with FERC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity on the project. Northwest is requesting authorization to construct new pipeline facilities and abandon certain other pipeline facilities in Lincoln County within the Kemmerer Mine Relocation Project. On May 11, it filed an environmental assessment on the project at FERC.

“Northwest states that the Project is required to provide a permanent reroute around the planned expansion of an existing surface coal mine (Kemmerer Mine) and potential areas of land movement associated with mining activities,” said the environmental assessment. “The Ignacio – Sumas 26-inch diameter Main Line 1400 (Main Line) was originally constructed in 1955 by Northwest’s predecessor and was subsequently rerouted in 1965 and 1972 as requested by the operator of the adjacent Kemmerer Mine. The Ignacio – Sumas 30-inch-diameter Loop Line 1409 (Loop Line) was installed by Northwest in 2003 along the same alignment as the 1972 reroute of the Main Line. In June 2011, the Kemmerer Mine operator notified Northwest of the potential of significant land movement caused by mining activity in the vicinity of the Main Line and Loop Line and advised Northwest to relocate the pipelines.”

To address the immediate need to reduce the risk of loss of service and/or damage to the pipelines, Northwest said it installed a single 1.1-mile long, 30-inch-diameter, surface-laid, temporary emergency bypass pipeline that was placed into service on Sept. 30, 2011. Northwest said the proposed Kemmerer Mine Relocation Project would provide a permanent reroute around planned mine expansions, locate the pipelines farther from potential land movement areas caused by mining activities, remove a majority of the TEB pipeline, and re-establish internal inspectability to both the Main Line and Loop Line.

The project would affect five landowners that have been notified by Northwest of its intent to undertake the project.

  • Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) was notified in December 2011, and executed four pipeline crossing agreements with Northwest that same month.
  • Anadarko Land Corp. was notified in December 2011, and entered into an easement agreement with Northwest on March 22.
  • The Wyoming Department of Transportation was notified in August 2011, and signed a letter of no objection on March 29.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was notified in November 2011, and by letter dated March 29 indicated its awareness of the project and its intent to issue a Temporary Use Permit for BLM-administered lands.
  • By letter dated March 30, Westmoreland Kemmerer Inc., the operator of the mine, indicated it has no objection to the project.

Over the last five years, Kemmerer has produced, on average, 4.8 million tons of high-quality sub-bituminous coal for sale to the adjacent Naughton power station, as well as various industrial customers located in the region.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.