State decision-maker in energy, CofC told

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, August 12, 2010

The state has the power to decide whether central Mississippi could become a player in compressed natural gas, a spokesman for one of three pipelines crossing Warren County said Wednesday.

“It’s up to Mississippi,” said Allen Fore, spokesman for Kinder Morgan, following an address to the Vicksburg- Warren County Chamber of Commerce. Kinder Morgan is the contract operator of the Port of Vicksburg and is a partner in the joint venture that put the Midcontinent Express pipeline into full service this year. The line burrows under 500 miles of territory from southeast Oklahoma to eastern Alabama, pulling 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily from the underground Barnett Shale in northeast Texas. Its tie-in in Butler, Ala., hooks into lines that serve the Atlantic Seaboard.

“These federally regulated projects are called open-access lines,” Fore said. “Our shippers need to have firm shipper commitments before you construct these. So, yeah, there’s a need for this gas.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

In a process, natural gas is compressed to less than 1 percent of its normal volume. The process is commonplace in Asia and South America, but is limited in the United States to a few outlets in the West.

Natural gas for residential use in Vicksburg is purchased by the city on the open market. Private companys provide gas service for residents in nonmunicipal Warren County and some areas in south Vicksburg. Fore said the gas that will pass under 13.08 miles of Vicksburg and Warren County could be tapped easily by a provider.

“If they have an interest in accessing this line, they can,” Fore said, adding a metering station can be built to access gas off the Midcontinent for about $5 million. Besides proximity to ample supply from the largest known natural gas shales, in the Rocky Mountains and the Northeast, economics will drive the likelihood, Fore said.

“Is that a good investment to invest in that? Do they have a market to tap into this gas? That’s all a business and economic decision, but it’s possible,” Fore said.

Estimates presented during Fore’s address showed economic impact hitting about $11.1 million in property taxes it will pay to seven Mississippi counties, including $733,000 projected to Warren County. Hinds County, where a $60 million compressor station was built just outside Edwards, stands to be paid more than $2.5 million in ad valorem taxes.

Two other multistate pipelines have crossed parts of Vicksburg and Warren County since 2007, one owned by Gulf South Pipeline and the other by Spectra Energy. All three, including Kinder Morgan, are headquartered in Houston.