Pipeline compressor station constructed near Presidio

PRESIDIO – Energy Transfer Partners have given conflicting statements as to how many compressor stations would be built along the 148 mile Trans-Pecos pipeline. Their statements have ranged in number and detail. Rick Smith, a Vice President of ETP, stated at a public meeting in Alpine that there would be none, and then in that same venue said there would be one, “somewhere south of Marfa.” In a June 2015 issue of the Big Bend Sentinel, a full-page ad purchased by ETP stated there would be only one compressor station to be built northwest of Fort Stockton, near Coyanosa. Now, according to sources, ETP has been constructing a second compressor station for the past six months, near the city of Presidio. Sources on the ground say there has been an increase in activity around the site, which is approximately 11.7 miles northwest of Presidio on FM 170. An air permit granted by the Texas Commission of Environmental Air Quality in the same area can be viewed on their website, and is an indication that a compressor station is being built. While the industry downplays how dangerous the oil and gas infrastructure can be, last week, on Friday, July 27, a Permian Basin compressor station operated by Targa Midstream Services exploded when a contractor was running a cleaning device known as a “pig” through the gas pipeline to remove liquids from the pipeline used to transport wet gas, containing liquids. The explosion, located south of Monahans, near the intersection of SH-18 and FM-1233, resulted in one death and two people being injured. “A compressor station requires FERC approval, or should and this is very disturbing to me,” said Coyne Gibson, member of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance. By not giving any notification, ETP is violating basic requirements. However, Gibson isn’t surprised as he sees this as ‘business as usual.’ “A lot of companies pull the trigger on a construction project, will pay a fine later because it is cheaper in the long-run than going through the proper channels.” M.R. Gonzalez, who owns land near by where the station is located, said he was never notified about the compressor’s construction, although he was notified about the pipeline, which runs through his land. ETP promised to provide fencing and other minor improvements to his property, and they failed to deliver, he added. Mae Ridgway, who lives in an adobe home three miles away from the compressor, is worried about its close proximity to her home. “I’m not looking forward to it,” said Ridgway who has had to live alongside the pipeline for the past year, and in that time it has disrupted her quiet life. “My property value has gone down, who would want to move next to this?, she said.

In February, the pipeline near her house experienced what is referred to as a “blow-down,” but to the inexperienced ear it would sound similar to a jet engine. ` “The noise was so loud, I could hardly talk to my dogs,” she said. According to Ridgway, ETP failed to tell the city nor residents nearby that there would be a blow-down that would last thirty days. “One time I smelled gas, it was faint, but I smelled it.” During these blow-downs, methane, carbon dioxide, benzene and a list of other hazardous materials are released into the air. These emissions have a 5-mile radius and can stretch beyond that depending on the humidity, air temperature or wind. Each time, the station near Ridgway goes through a blow down, this puts her at risk of breathing in these chemicals. At the time of publication, ETP could not be reached for comment.