- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - American Midstream Partners will build a new natural gas pipeline that will preserve service to thousands of customers from Winnsboro, Louisiana, to Natchez, Mississippi.

Last year, the Midla Pipeline owners asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to abandon the line, citing safety concerns. However, congressional delegations and local officials from both states lobbied the federal agency to deny the application.

American Midstream announced in a news release Wednesday it has an agreement in principle to replace the 8-inch pipeline from Winnsboro to Natchez with a 12-inch pipeline.

The company says areas not served by the new line will be will be connected to other interstate or intrastate pipelines, other gas distribution systems, or offered conversion to propane service.

Federal regulators must approve the project.

“This pipeline is our lifeline to industrial recruitment,” said Vidalia, Louisiana, Mayor Hyram Copeland, who serves on the Louisiana Municipal Gas Association’s executive committee.

“The 12-inch line will allow for higher volumes, and that will give us the ability now to recruit major industry that is dependent on natural gas,” Copeland said.

FERC helped negotiate the deal between Midla’s owners and the areas whose residents and businesses are served by the pipeline.

“The bottom line is now we have a game plan to run a safe and reliable pipeline, which was the driving force behind this all along. Nobody will be left without service,” said Peter Esposito, American Midstream’s consultant who acted as lead counsel on the deal.

“Our goal is to nail down the details and present a formal settlement agreement to FERC in November,” he said.

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