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Natural gas comes to Presidio

March 9th, 2017 under Top Stories

Trans-Pecos Pipeline nearly complete

By CAMERON DODD

cameron@bigbendnow.com

PRESIDIO — A long-rumored pipeline project that could bring natural gas access to Presidio for the first time was confirmed this week.

The City of Presidio, West Texas Gas and Energy Transfer Partners announced on Wednesday plans to construct an 11-mile pipeline connecting the Trans-Pecos Pipeline to the Presidio Industrial Park. The 6-inch pipeline will bring natural gas from the 42-inch Trans-Pecos Pipeline to Presidio’s northwestern city limits, and will pave the way for Presidio businesses and residents to access natural gas for the first time.

The 143-mile Trans-Pecos Pipeline (TPP) is expected to be operational by the end of March, according to company spokesperson Vicki Granado. The lateral pipeline, which will connect to the TPP north of where the pipeline tunnels beneath the Rio Grande, is expected to be in service by June 2017, according to a press statement.

West Texas Gas has committed to constructing and operating the lateral pipeline. The Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC will help with construction costs, according to a press statement.

The pipeline will connect the new Biad Chili Products plant in the Presidio Industrial Park to natural gas. Access to natural gas from the Trans-Pecos Pipeline was a selling point in bringing the New Mexico-based chili company’s operation to Presidio.

“Thanks to city staff and the Presidio City Council for their work that has fostered new economic growth in Presidio,” Presidio Mayor John Ferguson said in an email. “The chili plant will provide 50 seasonal jobs in Presidio, and eventually it is hoped that natural gas will be made available to businesses and homes inside Presidio.”

With a private company financing the construction and transport of natural gas to Presidio’s city limits, the City of Presidio is exploring the possibility of offering natural gas to other local businesses and households through a franchise, Presidio Municipal Development District director Brad Newton told the Presidio International.

“This is a significant step forward in fostering renewed economic development for the City of Presidio as this pipeline will provide the first natural gas pipeline service in our area,” Newton said in a statement.

Nearby cities such as Marfa, Alpine and Fort Davis have had natural gas service since the 1960s and from West Texas Gas since 1998 when it acquired the system. Comparatively more remote Presidio, however, has made do with electricity and propane for its heating and cooking needs.

Propane is more expensive and less reliable than natural gas. Local restaurant owners mostly heralded the possibility of access to natural gas when the Trans-Pecos Pipeline was first announced, the International & Sentinel reported at the time. Roberto Calderon, owner of the now-closed Restaurant D’Charly in Presidio, told the International he paid about $200 every 10 days for a full tank of propane and that natural gas would help his business cut operating costs. The Presidio location of Restaurant D’Charly went out of business less than a year later.

Additionally, transporting propane by truck can be dangerous. In December 2016, tanker truck carrying propane for West Texas Gas exploded between Marfa and Alpine. The 79-year-old driver was killed in the fire.

Although the more than 5,000-person population of Presidio presents a larger market for natural gas than the already serviced Marfa or Balmorhea, the cost of connecting and installing gas lines to Presidio have long been considered prohibitive. The arrival of Trans-Pecos Pipeline’s tap and metering station 11-miles from Presidio and the Biad Chili plant’s potential to consume as much gas as a small town significantly altered the economics of the situation.

“West Texas Gas is very pleased to finally have the ability to offer natural gas service to the Presidio area… West Texas Gas has searched for ways to serve the market along the Presidio-Ojinaga border,” West Texas Gas President Richard Hatchett said in a statement Wednesday. “The Trans-Pecos Pipeline and Biad Chili Plant have now provided that opportunity.”

 

 

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