Underground pipeline now pumping gasoline from Norco to Mississippi

10 23, 2013 by The Times-Picayune

Construction of a 141-mile underground pipeline from Norco to southern Mississippi has been completed and the pipe is now transporting refined petroleum products to major markets in the eastern United States. Work began on the approximately $250 million Parkway Pipeline in August of 2012 and was completed this fall as scheduled, according to operators of the system.

The 16-inch pipeline, which was run under Lake PontchartrainThe and Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville, has an initial capacity of 110,000 barrels per day with the ability to expand to over 200,000 barrels per day. The pipeline project is a joint venture between Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Valero Energy Corp.

"We are pleased to have completed the construction of Parkway on schedule with the help of good local working environments in both Louisiana and Mississippi," said KMP Products Pipelines President Ron McClain. "This is an exciting project that provides greater connectivity between Gulf Coast refineries and East Coast markets with new pipeline infrastructure while also increasing local property tax revenues by almost $6 million."

The Parkway Pipeline project generated about 1,200 temporary construction jobs at its peak, according to a Kinder Morgan press release. The pipeline runs from Valero St. Charles Refinery in Norco to Collins, Miss., where it connects with a petroleum transportation hub owned by Plantation Pipe Line Company.

Kinder Morgan owns 51 percent of Plantation Pipe Line Company and operates the system. From this hub the refined petroleum products are transported by pipeline systems that serve major markets in the southeastern United States.

Beginning at Valero, the line runs along a guide levee bordering the Bonnet Carre Spillway into the lake, where it follows a pipeline corridor from the southwest side of the lake to the northeast side, running beneath the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway several miles from the bridge's northern end. From there, it runs beneath the cabins along Fontainebleau's shoreline and through the wooded, 2,800-acre state park before skirting Bush and Bogalusa on its way to Collins, which is about 30 miles northwest of Hattiesburg.

In the lake, the line was laid about four feet below the bottom in a trench created by a jetting process.

A number of federal and state agencies were involved in the approval and oversight of the project, including the Army Corps of Engineers, which took the lead on environmental issues. Officials said the pipeline follows existing utility rights-of-way wherever possible to minimize environmental impacts.

At the behest of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, the company agreed to install shutoff valves on both sides of Lake Pontchartrain to limit environmental damage in the unlikely event of a pipeline rupture.

Parkway Pipeline made a $225,000 contribution to Fontainebleau State Park through the Louisiana Parks Foundation. The donation was to be used for a tallow tree eradication project and to repopulate the park with indigenous plant life.