Policy: Environment & Energy

Pipeline owner seeks OK for pipeline abandonment

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Associated Press,Louisiana,Mississippi,Energy and Environment,Oil,Pipelines

Federal regulators have denied a request from American Midstream Partners to speed up consideration of its proposed abandonment of the Midla natural gas pipeline in Louisiana and Mississippi.

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission refused to shorten the objection period for people opposed to the abandonment.

The News-Star reports American Midstream had asked for a 10-day window during which people could file complaints. The federal agency more than doubled that request by granting a 22-day intervention window. Interventions are due by May 2.

American Midstream wants regulators to make a decision about the abandonment by July 1.

The natural gas pipeline serves Natchez, Woodville and other areas in southwest Mississippi and nine parishes in eastern Louisiana, including the Clayton, Ferriday, Ridgecrest and Vidalia areas.

American Midstream wants to abandon the pipeline over safety concerns because of the pipeline's age. It was built in the 1920s and is now about 50 years beyond its predicted lifespan, the company said.

Denver-based American Midstream, a subsidiary of Boston-based hedge fund ArcLight Capital, filed an application with federal regulators in March.

Officials in Louisiana and Mississippi have questioned the decision.

American Midstream officials have said they were forced to file to abandon the pipeline after negotiations with their customers, including Atmos Energy, yielded no new contracts needed to replace parts of the line. Dallas-based Atmos has filed a complaint with regulators over American Midstream's plans.

The company has said it has looked into alternatives to operating the pipeline as is, including partial reconstruction of the line or trucking compressed natural gas to its existing distribution system connections.

The company estimates those options will cost approximately $1.76 a month more for customer meters on the Atmos system.

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