Several natural gas pipeline companies gave updates this week on the operational status of facilities that were severely damaged by Gulf Coast hurricanes this past summer. According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA, www.eia.doe.gov) weekly energy report, Tennessee Gas Pipeline (www.tennesseeadvantage.com) announced that it was notified by BP America (www.bp.com) that it does not plan to resume operation of the Grand Chenier gas processing plant, located in southwestern Louisiana. The plant had an operating capacity of 600 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day. Tennessee reported that about 135,000 dekatherms (Dth) per day can be delivered temporarily through an interconnect at the Targa Seahawk pipeline system and processed at the Lowry gas processing plant. Tennessee also announced that the Yscloskey processing plant is currently operating at a capacity of 600 MMcf per day, which is a utilization rate of about one-third of capacity. Meanwhile, Gulf South Pipeline Company (www.gulfsouthpl.com) announced this week that three more locations in Louisiana are operational after sustaining damage from the hurricanes. One other Gulf South facility had been previously verified as operational and one remains offline. Tennessee Gas Pipeline announced that current shut-in production on its 500 and 800 lines as a result of damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita totals about 350,000 Dth/d. About 100,000 Dth/d is offline, owing to pipeline damage and 250,000 Dth/d is shut in owing to third-party damage. Lastly, according to a Feb. 1 update from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (dnr.louisiana.gov), only 19 of the 55 intrastate pipeline operators in Louisiana have reopened at full or close to full capacity following the hurricane. Sixteen operators have experienced partial system shut-ins or flow, and 20 remain shut-in.

The number of rigs drilling for natural gas increased to 1,247 for the week ending Jan. 27, according to Baker-Hughes Incorporated (www.bakerhughes.com). The number of natural gas rigs is about 17 percent greater than last year at this time, and about 44 percent higher than the five-year average for the report week. The share of natural gas rigs drilling was about 84 percent of the total gas and oil-rig count for the report week. While the number of rigs drilling in the United States as a whole is almost 4 percent higher than it was in mid-August; the number of rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has decreased by 30 percent during the same time. According to the EAI’s latest report, the number of rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico during the week was 69, the lowest number since the 68 rigs drilling in mid-1993. Since before the hurricanes, the number of natural gas rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has decreased 60 percent, while the number of oil rigs drilling in the Gulf has almost doubled. As a result, the natural gas rigs share of total rigs drilling decreased to 46 percent for the report week from 81 percent in mid-August. The emphasis on oil drilling in the Gulf reflects better economic returns for crude oil compared with domestic natural gas prospects amid the lingering infrastructure problems in the region.