Union Gas' Panhandle line from Lambton to Chatham-Kent will be Replaced

Friday, March 3, 2017

The London Free Press/David Gough

 

Construction of a $250-million natural gas pipeline from Union Gas’ Dawn Compressor Station in Lambton County to its Dover Transmission Station in Chatham-Kent is expected to begin in May, boosting the local economy while providing additional energy for commercial and residential customers in Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex.

 

Union Gas received approval for increasing the capacity of its Panhandle Transmission System on Feb. 23. It had filed an application with the Ontario Energy Board last June.

 

The project, expected to be completed by November, will see the construction of a 36-inch gas pipeline over a length of 40 kilometres. Pipeline construction will begin at the gas company’s compressor station at Bentpath in Dawn-Euphemia Township, and will end at the Dover site at Town Line Road and Belle Rose Line. The new pipeline will replace an existing pipeline.

 

Andrea Stass, manager of media relations for Union Gas, said Thursday the Panhandle pipeline has not been updated for some time.

 

“It has reached a point where we are going to actually increase the size to help serve the surrounding areas,” she said.

 

Stass couldn’t pinpoint how many workers will be employed over the project’s six-month duration, but said it’s expected the work will generate considerable economic activity.

 

“Where they can our construction contractors will use local contractors and local vendors,” she said.

 

Wallaceburg Chamber of Commerce president Karen Debergh said Thursday the pipeline project will be an enormous boost to the local economy, as construction workers will be looking for local accommodation.

 

“The spin-off for the restaurants and grocery stores and even the stores will be great for us,” Debergh said.

 

She said the pipeline project will not only provide an economic benefit during its construction, but will also provide an economic boost once local natural gas capacity has been enlarged.

 

The project is also expected to benefit Essex County’s $2-billion greenhouse industry.

 

Stephen MacKenzie, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corp., called the OEB approval “great news” for the region and a “strengthening” of their infrastructure.

 

MacKenzie said Thursday that while the pipeline expansion will be a big benefit for the fast-growing greenhouse sector, having the pipeline approved opens up the opportunity for smaller lateral lines that could be run off it to service business at additional sites in Windsor-Essex.

 

“The fact that it creates the opportunity for further expansion is even an additional benefit,” he said.

 

Windsor-Essex municipal officials have been lobbying for the pipeline expansion for years. Organizations such as the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers have also supported and pushed for the pipeline project.

 

In a letter to the Ontario Energy Board, OGVG said right now natural gas resources in the Essex and Chatham-Kent regions are at capacity and an expansion of service is necessary to support further economic development in the region.

 

OGVG said without an immediate and significant increase in the availability of natural gas capacity, continued growth in the agricultural industry served by the Panhandle system would be adversely affected and could force Ontario greenhouse operators to look to Ohio for expansion.

 

Stass, meanwhile, said Union Gas will employ a “lift and lay” construction process to install the pipeline. Specifically, the existing 16-inch diameter steel pipeline will be removed (or lifted) and replaced with the proposed 36-inch diameter steel pipeline in the same easement, with the exception of those sections of pipe deemed not practical to remove as determined by an engineering assessment, such as major road and watercourse crossing locations.

 

“It's not a net new construction of a pipeline, it's a removing of one and replacing with a larger one,” she said.