Referring to maps spread out before members of the Barton County Commission Monday morning, Northern Natural Gas’ Greg Alexander described the company’s intricate network of gas pipelines that criss-cross the county.
“We’re pretty extensive,” he said. Alexander, senior O&M technician for Northern operating out of Bushton, provided an operating procedures update to the commission.
The company has gas lines ranging in size from 24 inches down to two inches. Some run the entire breadth of the county from west to east, some just cut across corners and some connect the other lines together.
“These are transmission lines,” Alexander said. The are not “odorized,” meaning there would be none of the smell associated with gas should there be a leak.
However, he said when assessing risk, they look for lines running through “high consequence areas” such as heavily populated regions. There are none of these in Barton County.
In addition, all the pipelines undergo a semi-annual aerial inspection. “We are on the lookout for any problems or issues.”
Alexander said he planned on meeting with the Communications Department as well. “This is so they can identify where our assets are throughout the county.”
It is also important to know where these lines are for land-use and development purposes, he said.
One of the pipes runs close to the Barton County Landfill raising an issue that has long been discussed by county officials, said Commissioner Jennifer Schartz. They have talked about ways to harness the natural gas created by decomposing trash.
Alexander said this would be feasible and that he would look into it.
According to the company’s website, Northern is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy based in Omaha, Neb., and has been business since 1930. Northern owns and operates the largest interstate natural gas pipeline system in the United States with 14,700 miles of pipe.
Northern’s pipeline system stretches across 11 states, from the Permian Basin in Texas to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, providing access to five of the major natural gas supply regions in North America.
It provides natural gas transportation and storage services to 81 utilities and numerous producers, energy marketing companies and industrial end users. It also provides grid transportation between other interstate and intrastate pipelines, and access to major North American gas supply basins in Canada, the Rocky Mountains, the MidContinent and Permian Basins, and major shale gas developments.