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  • Writer's pictureStaff @ LT&C

Louisiana Lawmakers propose bill to resolve Haynesville pipeline crossing disputes

Two Louisiana state lawmakers have proposed bills to simplify rules around pipeline crossings in the state in a move that could alleviate uncertainty around several ongoing projects providing natural gas takeaway capacity out of the Haynesville Shale.

 

Republican State Senator Alan Seabaugh March 1 pre-filed a bill that would allow for a quick resolution of pipeline crossing disputes. If passed, a pipeline developer could voluntarily provide notice to the owner of an existing pipeline of a planned crossing. After 30 days of receipt of the notice, the developer could start an action to determine or enforce its rights by summary proceeding. Republican State Representative Jack McFarland March 1 pre-filed two bills in the Louisiana House of Representatives with the same language.

 

The lawmakers were not available for comment March 6.

 

The proposed law also clarifies that unless otherwise stipulated, a pipeline servitude or right of way is "limited to the physical space in which the pipeline rests and the surface area and space required to perform activities expressly contemplated in the instrument."

 

These rules "shall be effective as to all pipeline crossings, including those presently the subject of pending judicial demand," the bills state.

 

Energy Transfer is involved in litigation with several midstream rivals around crossings; it has argued companies cannot cross its pipelines without its prior permission. It has been successful in district court cases against DT Midstream and Williams, which have both appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal. The court heard oral arguments for DT Midstream 's appeal Feb. 26, and a decision is expected in the coming weeks. A similar case regarding Momentum Midstream's NG3 pipeline is due to be heard in Louisiana's 42nd District Court in September.

 

DT Midstream said March 6 it would not comment on matters related to pending litigation, while Energy Transfer did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Williams delayed its 1.8 Bcf/d Louisiana Energy Gateway pipeline to the second half of 2025 due to the litigation, while Momentum Midstream said the litigation has "introduced uncertainty into the timeline" of its 1.7 Bcf/d NG3 pipeline, which is due in service in the second half of 2024. DT Midstream has said it has secured all necessary crossing for its 200 MMcf/d LEAP Phase 3 expansion and is sticking to a third-quarter 2024 target in-service date.

 

The projects are necessary to deliver gas from the Haynesville Shale south to the Gulf Coast. Haynesville production "will be relied upon to meet the significant LNG export growth starting in late 2024," S&P Global Commodity Insights gas analysts said Feb. 22. LNG feedgas is forecast to jump by nearly 90% by 2028 relative to 2023 levels.

 

A source close to the matter said the legislation was likely to pass relatively quickly because it has broad political and industry support.

 

Republicans have a trifecta in Louisiana, and Governor Jeff Landry came out strongly in favor of DT Midstream 's appeal when he was attorney general. He filed an amicus brief to Louisiana's Second Circuit Court of Appeal in November 2023 arguing "a routine pipeline crossing should not have resulted in a decision with such negative effects or absurd conclusions," and called Energy Transfer 's refusal to permit a crossing "a bizarre deviation from standard practices."

 

The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Landowners Association have been lobbying for such legislation.

 

"Energy Transfer wants to block other pipeline companies -- poised to invest billions of dollars in new projects in Louisiana -- from crossing Energy Transfer's existing Gulf Run pipeline despite acquiring land-use rights from local landowners, complying with industry safety standards and following more than 100 years of industry-embraced practice," LOGA President Mick Moncla and LLA President William O'Neal said in a Feb. 16 op-ed in the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

 

The company "had no choice but to enforce our property rights by filing legal actions to prevent these crossings," co-CEO Thomas Long said during an investor call Feb. 14. Its requests for technical information were "rejected or ignored," and it has not been satisfied that the crossing "will not adversely affect our existing lines."

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