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Cold delaying gas-pipeline progress

MALONE — Continual sub-zero weather is delaying the Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas natural-gas pipeline, which has just 17 percent of customers ready for service.

“We need to get that 83 percent going,” General Manager Jim Ward told Franklin County legislators Thursday.

He said this is the coldest winter the North Country has experienced since the 1800s, so the company hasn’t made much progress in the last two months.

‘DRILLING KILLING US’

Contractors have roughly 40 hours of work to complete the 48-mile transmission line.

Crews need to expand the width of the final drilled bore from 6 to 14 inches so the pipe can be threaded through and connected to the rest of the structure, Ward said.

But the cold has impacted the fluid needed to operate the drill, so consecutive days of freezing temperatures prevent the crews from completing the task.

“The drilling is killing us,” Ward said.

While waiting for cold weather to break to finish the bore and test the last 1,560 feet of pipe, he said, crews have completed other work typically done in the last four to six weeks, such as adding valves.

“We’ve cut that time to a week,” Ward said, adding that “we’ve done all we could in preparation for the bore.”

To test for leaks, a smell is introduced to the normally odorless product. But the inside of the steel piping must be conditioned to prevent it from absorbing too much of the additive and throwing off the odorization-test results, he said.

If nothing is detected, the next move is to switch gas service on at the McCadam Cheese Plant in Chateaugay and the three state prisons in Malone, Ward said.

Related: Dickinson refinery costing more than expected due to delays

DELAYS ADD TO COST

At this time, 420 sites are fully hooked up for service waiting for the gas to flow, including Chateaugay Central School District, Malone Central School District and three State Department of Correction and Community Supervision prisons: Franklin Correctional, Upstate Correctional and Bare Hill Correctional Facility.

The more users that go online, the better odorization of the other spurs goes, Ward said.

He said that, as of the end of December, St. Lawrence Gas had spent $48 million on the project, far more than the $14 million it pledged once the state granted its approval to build in 2011.

The entire pipeline was to cost an estimated $20 million, with the county contributing about $2 million in permit expenses and cash toward the project.

Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) secured $2 million, and former Gov. David Paterson promised $2.5 million.

The company has said that cost overruns incurred by the project delays during the past six years will be passed on to users.

 

This article was written by Denise A. Raymo from Plattsburgh Press-Republican and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.