Gas pipeline routing plan looks like a bust | PostIndependent.com
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Gas pipeline routing plan looks like a bust

It sounded like a common sense idea worth exploring.

If EnCana Oil and Gas is going to lay pipelines across private property in western Garfield County, why couldn’t the company run them along county road rights-of-way as much as possible, rather than through hay fields and pastures?

After residents presented the pipeline idea at a public forum a few weeks ago, Garfield County oil and gas auditor Doug Dennison looked into it, talking to Weld, La Plata and Broomfield counties.



Last week he told the Garfield County commissioners, “I wasn’t encouraged by anyone the county should pursue this.”

Laying pipelines alongside county roads cost more for oil and gas companies. But there are also liability considerations, engineering problems, and public safety concerns created by block valves that extend up above the surface from pipelines.



“People have hit block valves and been killed,” Dennison said. “Companies prefer the pipelines be kept away from the roads as much as possible.”

Residents in western Garfield County have seen natural gas rigs spring up on their properties for the past decade, and EnCana now plans to build a pipeline from south of Silt to gas transmission lines to the west to take the gas to market.

Dennison said Weld County had the most success with running pipelines along county roads, because those roads are laid out in a grid system. Even there, Weld County incurred some costs related to pipelines in road rights-of-way.

La Plata discourages pipelines along county roads. “Their major roads are full of utilities already,” Dennison said.

Broomfield has allowed pipelines alongside county roads, and the costs to the county have been significant, Dennison said.

Dennison said he was also told pipelines should never be placed below driving surfaces, because roadways force the frost line to lower depths.

In talking with EnCana representatives, Dennison said he learned the company is now trying to run pipelines along fence rows and other routes, rather than through hay fields and pastures.

“I have to give them credit,” Dennison said. “They are trying to move their lines where they have less impact.”

Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt said it “makes sense” not to run pipelines on county road rights-of-way when there are safety concerns. “Otherwise,” she said, “we need to balance the interests of the surface owners and the industry.”

Houpt said she’d like Dennison to continue his research into the issue. “I don’t want to close the door completely on this,” she said.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

lburton@postindependent.com


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