- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - American Midstream Partners wants to abandon its Midla natural gas pipeline in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The company made application Wednesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It has asked regulators to make a decision about the abandonment by July 1.

The Natchez Democrat reports (https://bit.ly/1mMNII9 ) pipeline serves Natchez, Woodville and other areas in Southwest Mississippi and Clayton, Ferriday, Ridgecest and Vidalia in Louisiana.

Denver-based American Midstream said erosion and land cultivation have brought the ground surface closer to the pipeline and Mississippi River floods have destroyed six of eight river crossings.

The application also says the pipeline’s right of way has been encroached on by development, which includes two schools, a prison and a housing community in the planning stages.

American Midstream president/CEO Steve Bergstrom said in a news release the company is not aware of any imminent danger but cannot be sure the pipeline is safe to operate.

“The fact that the pipeline is still in service five decades beyond its predicted useful life is a testament to Midla’s maintenance program,” Bergstrom said. “Like an old car, however, there is only so much maintenance that can be done before the frame gives way and the car must be replaced. Midla’s mainline has clearly reached that point, and needs to be shut down and a replacement pipeline or alternate form of service installed and commissioned.”

The company said it has looked into alternatives to operating the pipeline as is, including partial reconstruction of the line or trucking compressed natural gas to its existing distribution system connections.

The company estimates those options will cost approximately $1.76 a month more for customer meters on the Atmos Energy system.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., filed an objection to the abandonment. U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, both R-Miss., sent a joint letter objecting to the shutdown proposal before it was filed, as did Landrieu and Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said his city will file an objection, as will the Louisiana Gas Authority.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said the area’s industrial base uses a significant amount of natural gas, but he does not foresee a scenario in which the Natchez region is without gas.

“This is just a matter of who will deliver it, what it looks like and what it will cost,” Russ said. “What you have in here is really them trying to force Atmos and some of the other users to help offset the costs of upgrades. There is a significant poker match going on, and obviously they are not liking the field out there right now.”

Woodville Mayor Gary D’Aquilla said he and others have been meeting with Louisiana and Mississippi officials to ensure the Wilkinson County portion of the line is not without service.

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Information from: The Natchez Democrat, https://www.natchezdemocrat.com/

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