Last Week in Review: Low Initial Impact from Recent TETCO Explosion

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Author: Colette Breshears, Product Manager, Natural Gas, Josh Garcia, Analyst, Natural Gas and Nicole McMurrer, Analyst, Natural Gas

Late afternoon 4 May 2020, Texas Eastern experienced a rupture and explosion on its 30-inch system on Line 10 just north of the Owingsville, Kentucky Compressor Station and declared a Force Majeure limiting throughput through that area to zero. North-to-south capacity through the Owingsville Compressor Station has been zero since late on 4 May, and there is no current timeline for a return to service. This is just upstream of last August’s Line 14 explosion near Danville, Kentucky, and downstream of January 2019’s Line 10 explosion near Berne, Ohio, both on the 30-inch system. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has assumed control of the incident site.

Production impacts

Our pipeline data shows flows through Owingsville averaged approximately 1.3 Bcf/d for the two weeks prior to the explosion. Nominations posted for 5 May saw numerous revisions. The morning of 5 May, Texas Eastern Transmission Pipeline (TETCO) nominations showed decreased production on the pipeline, but total flows remained somewhat steady, as receipts from nearby interstate pipelines increased by around 0.6 Bcf/d as gas was rerouted through the area, heading east through the northern Penn-Jersey line and the South 36” system.

On 6 May, our daily pipe production data reported that total Southwest Pennsylvania production was revised upwards by approximately 0.8 Bcf/d for 5 May, and 4 May production estimates were revised up slightly by close to 0.05 Bcf/d. Daily nominations in Southwest Pennsylvania indicate the total production impact of the explosion to be around 0.2 Bcf/d for 4 May, with flows resuming 3 May levels (around 8 BCF/d) by 5 May.

Figure 1: Production levels in southwestern Pennsylvania

Source: Wood Mackenzie

Source: Wood Mackenzie

Displaced production from the TETCO explosion found a home in heightened demand in the East, which is currently experiencing a cold spell that is expected to last until the midpoint in May. Weather data shows that the East has averaged 8.9 degree days since 4 May (the start of the cold spell), roughly double than the 30-year average around this time of year. TETCO M3 was unconstrained at the time of the explosion, with flows on Delmont and Bedford rising 1.1 Bcf/d collectively since the 4 May explosion. Demand in the East has risen 8.93 Bcf/d since 2 May to 26.2 Bcf/d on 12 May, which will likely be the peak. As weather warms, we expect Northeast demand to drop and exports to the South Central and Southeast to increase.

Figure 2: Eastern demand degree days and forecast

Source: Wood Mackenzie

Photo observations

On Wednesday, 6 May, our Infrastructure Intelligence team chartered a flight over the site of the 4 May TETCO explosion site, just north of the pipeline’s Owingsville compressor.

Early observations of the site from news coverage suggested that the affected area seemed smaller overall than the Berne or Danville explosions we observed last year. The images from Wednesday’s flight confirmed this observation. This reduction in impact area is likely a result of decreased operating pressure.


Figure 3: Overview of the incident site.

Source: Wood Mackenzie

As no construction machinery is present yet, we can clearly see the ruptured Line 10 on the outside edge of the right of way. This fits with the line arrangement near Danville, which puts Line 15 in the middle and Line 25 on the far side of the ROW from the explosion crater.

Figure 4: Closeup of the incident site

Source: Wood Mackenzie

Expected workflow at the site is for Line 10 to be excavated for several segments on each side of the rupture, with some or all of that pipe removed and sent offsite for additional examination. We also expect that Line 15 and possibly Line 25 will be excavated and checked for external damage. Internal damage will be checked with in-line tools prior to returning to service.

Timeline for restoration

There is no official timeline for a return to service. TETCO posted a notice on 8 May noting that all service through the affected section of pipeline would be out of service for approximately 2-3 weeks from time of posting.

In terms of a timeline leading to a potential Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) notice (with initial case facts and incident observations) and restoration of partial volumes: the similar Danville incident last August saw about seven to eight days elapse prior to the notice, and partial flows through Line 25 returned after about 25 days. Line 25 returned with a capacity of 800 MMcf/d.

There is no transparency around National Transportation Board (NTSB) investigation into the Line 15/Danville incident. We don’t know if findings from that work may factor into the procedure or timeline for this Line 10/Owingsville incident.

In late April - prior to last week’s event - TETCO revised their timetable for a return to service for the Line 15 system further into Q3. The last Line 15 report date is scheduled for 24 August 2020, over a year after the Danville-area explosion. We can expect that any return to service for Line 15 will be past the date of the last test. Going off the slightly more recent Delmont winter outage, these report dates are the best guideline to see approximately when the line could return to service, though once we get closer to the report dates, individual notices become more informative than this schedule.

It remains to be seen if/how much this timetable will be adjusted due to this Owingsville explosion. Find out more about our solutions or view a recording of the flyover.