Independence Trail pipeline resumes operations

Enterprise Products Partners has completed repairs to the flex-joint assembly of the Independence Trail gas pipeline, the source of a leak that occurred Apr. 8.

Christopher E. Smith
Pipeline Editor

HOUSTON, June 4 -- Enterprise Products Partners LP has completed repairs to the flex-joint assembly of the Independence Trail natural gas pipeline, the source of a leak that occurred Apr. 8, and had forced production to be halted since. Dive teams successfully replaced the flex-joints' o-ring gasket. Initial test results showed the flex-joint operating normally.

The flex-joint, in about 85 ft of water, allows the pipeline to withstand movements of the Independence Hub platform. Reduced volumes began moving through the line while final testing was underway, with the pipeline's 1 bcfd full capacity expected to be reached during the first half of June.

The gas trading community had been expecting a mid-May restart of the pipeline and production hub, consistent with the outside edge of Enterprise's own initial predictions that service would be restored in 1-4 weeks. However a mid-May announcement that repairs would take until mid-June prolonged the current gas price upsurge, which began in September 2007 (OGJ Online, May 14, 2008).

Independence Hub, stationed in Mississippi Canyon Block 920 in 8,000 ft of water, produces its 1 bcfd from 10 initial anchor fields. The 24-in. Independence Trail pipeline extends 134 miles on the seafloor from the hub to an interconnect with Tennessee Gas Pipeline at West Delta Block 68.

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