TX Judge Lifts Permian Pipeline Block


Construction on the $2 billion Permian Highway Pipeline will be allowed to proceed, according to a recent ruling by a Texas judge late last month. This means that plans can move forward without the state energy regulator approving the route.

According to Reuters, the judge’s ruling removes a block to state licensing procedure that allows gas pipeline companies to determine a route at their own discretion, as well as acquire land without the consent of the landowner.

Permian Highway Pipeline History

In September 2018, Kinder Morgan, along with EagleClaw Midstream Ventures, a portfolio company of Blackstone Energy Partners, announced the decision to proceed with the Permian Highway Pipeline.

Shippers attached to the project include: EagleClaw, Apache Corporation and XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, as well as others. Kinder Morgan and EagleClaw were the initial partners, each with 50% ownership of the project.

Civil and environmental surveys also began in September 2018 and are set to conclude in June of this year. Construction is slated to begin in the fall, with an in-service date set for late 2020.

The pipeline would carry 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily over 430 miles of 42-inch pipeline, running from the Coyanosa, Texas, area to Gulf Coast markets. According to Kinder Morgan, KMTP will both build and operate the pipeline.

An estimated 2,500 construction jobs and 18 full-time ongoing positions, available once construction is completed, will be created as a result of the pipeline.

In March, the San Marcos city council announced plans to oppose the development of the pipeline, requesting action from both houses of the Texas Legislature in protecting landowners and their rights, along with communities.

In late spring, Hill Country, Texas, landowners, along with City of Kyle officials and Hays County, filed a lawsuit against Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline and the Railroad Commission in regard to the company’s proposed pipeline, citing that the state agency responsible for oil and gas regulation and eminent domain needed to be challenged. The group asked a judge to put a stop to construction.

In late May, Judge Lora Livingston and the 261st State District Court in Austin began listening to arguments to decide the outcome of an anti-eminent lawsuit filed against Kinder Morgan.

Recent Ruling

In this most recent ruling, after four weeks of reviewing evidence, Livingston threw away the claims made against the pipeline. Livingston’s decision makes it so that no individual landowner can prevent the construction of what is seen as critical infrastructure.

Livingston also noted that the state’s oil and gas regulator is not required to issue standards for pipeline routing or when private land is taken.

“The court finds no authority for the proposition that the legislature has granted authority to the Commission to oversee the rights granted,” the judge said. The company’s request to dismiss this point from the lawsuit was also granted.

Moving forward, landowner advocate Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition said it would be considering its options, including an appeal, to fight back against the recent ruling. Travis Mitchell, mayor of Kyle, noted that the decision was unfortunate, but “not unexpected.”


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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