Three new pipelines are being added to the “spaghetti bowl” of pipelines that crisscross Liberty County, and if good weather continues through summer and fall, the pipelines could be completed by the end of the year, said David Douglas, who oversees Liberty County’s permits department.
“Construction is flying along. When they have dry conditions, they work 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” Douglas said of the contractors hired to lay the lines. “The weather has been good for them this year.”
Motorists on SH 321 between Cleveland and Tarkington have likely noticed a lot of activity taking place, with signs alerting them to pipeline construction. There are actually two lines that are being constructed just east of Cleveland – both for natural gas or liquefied petroleum. A pipeline that enters the county near Devers/Raywood and travels west through the Dayton area will carry crude oil. All of the pipelines will terminate in Mont Belvieu.
“Mont Belvieu is about to be the biggest refractionary site in the country,” Douglas said. “We are talking about thousands of jobs, and lots and lots of economic development for this region.”
Oneok’s Arbuckle pipeline is a 16-inch steel line to transport crude. Most of the area through which it travels is old rice farm land, according to Douglas.
The Shin Oak pipeline, owned by Enterprise, is a 24-inch steel line that enters Liberty County near Cleveland. It skirts Cleveland on the east side and runs parallel along SH 321. The pipeline will be used for natural gas or liquefied petroleum.
Targa’s Grand Prix pipeline is the largest of the three with a 30-inch steel line. The Targa line originated in the West Texas Permian Basin and carries natural gas or liquefied petroleum.
All three pipelines travel parallel to SH 146 south of Dayton until reaching Mont Belvieu, Douglas said.
While construction of the pipelines might cause minor inconveniences at the moment, the payoff will be great for Liberty County and its residents, he believes.
“The Shin Oak folks told me the ad valorem value of their pipeline will be about $1 million for Liberty County. Plus, all that production shows that Mont Belvieu is having to grow. Step across that canal [near the county line] and Exxon has about 800 acres right now. It’s prime real estate for another refinery.”
Because the large trucks carrying pipes and equipment have to travel Liberty County roads, often on county-maintained roads, the pipeline companies have to secure a $1 million road use bond.
“When there is road damage, sometimes the pipeline companies will use their own people to repair the roads. Yesterday we had a situation on CR 479 in Pct. 4. They were running big trucks, stringing pipe, and had pretty much torn up the road,” Douglas said. “Commissioner [Leon] Wilson sent a crew in there yesterday to make the repairs. He kept up with all his material costs, machine time and employee time. What we will do now is invoice the company for the repair costs.”
Residents who live along the pipeline construction zones are no doubt tired of the construction, but Douglas begged for patience.
“Right now, it’s a mess. Right now, they are messing up the roads, but at the end of the day, it will all get cleaned up. The economic benefits for all this trouble will be huge,” he said.
County Judge Jay Knight agrees. He is confident that as Mont Belvieu’s industrial footprint grows, companies will venture out of Chambers County and into neighboring Liberty County.
“This will mean more jobs and a better quality of life for the people who live in Liberty County,” he said. “I don’t want to put on my sunglasses just yet, but Liberty County’s future sure seems bright.”
By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com