New gas pipeline to cross river here

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2000

A Texas-based gas transmission company will build a pipeline from Delhi to serve two electricity-generating plants in Vicksburg.

Columbia Gulf Transmission Co., announced the plans to build the line that will bring 285,000 dekatherms per day worth of natural gas to the existing Baxter Wilson Steam Generating Plant owned by Entergy Mississippi Inc. and to the peak plant being built by Warren Power LLC adjacent to Baxter Wilson. A dekatherm is a quantity of gas that means virtually the same as 1,000 cubic feet of gas. Baxter Wilson is capable of producing 1.300 megawatts of power and the peak plant will have a capacity of 300 megawatts when it is complete in the summer of 2001.

Columbia Gulf plans to move 200,000 dekatherms per day to Baxter Wilson to fuel the plant’s boilers and 85,000 to the Warren Power plant to fuel the gas turbines.

“These new interconnections increase the number of power generation plants Columbia Gulf serves to nine and the total amount of potential peak deliverability to more than 1 million dekatherms per day,” said Jim Hart, vice president of marketing and business development.

As part of the agreements the company will construct a 37-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline from its mainline system near Delhi to the plants in south Vicksburg.

The Mississippi River crossing will use horizontal drilling technology instead of crossing on one of the two bridges that cross the Mississippi at Vicksburg. A horizontal drilling rig will drill a pilot hole 60 feet under the bottom of the river and that will be enlarged enough so the pipe can be pulled through. The technique is commonly used to install pipes, wires and cables under and beside roads and streets without having to dig and refill trenches.

Two gas transmission pipelines currently cross on the old U.S. 80 bridge. There are at least two other subterranean crossings of the Mississippi at Vicksburg and as many as 60 between here and Memphis.

Bill Kiser, a spokesman for Columbia Gulf, said the company chose the drilling technique because it will have less impact on the environment and cause less disruption of towboat and barge traffic on the Mississippi River. He said there are basically two ways to put a pipe under a river, horizontal drilling and trenching. Trenching has the potential of disturbing vast quantities of mud and silt and could disrupt the life cycles of protected species of animals and plants that live in or on the river bottom. Also, the only places where the line could cause an environmental impact on the river banks are where it goes into the ground and where it comes out on the other side.

Actual construction of the pipeline will begin the first of 2001 with a target date in May for the line to be in service.

Columbia Gulf is an operating company of NiSource Inc., and has an interstate pipeline system of 4,200 miles that stretches across the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. The company is capable of moving about 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Kiser said Columbia Gulf has three parallel gas lines that run from Rayne, La., in a northeasterly direction to a crossing of the Mississippi River northeast of Lake Providence into Issaquena County.

NiSource is a holding company based in Merrillville, Ind. Its operating companies are involved in nearly all phases of the natural gas business from exploration and production and transmission to storage and distribution. It is also involved in electric generation, transmission and distribution.

Ground was broken for the peak plant on a tract adjacent to Baxter Wilson in September. It will use gas turbines to turn three generators that make the plant capable of coming on line quickly when needed to supply power in peak demands.

The plant will not supply power for Entergy’s operations in this area but will generate power that will be sold on the open market.