Trucked natural gas to replace scrapped pipeline

Release Date:
April 22nd, 2015

Dan Colton
Staff Writer Rutland Herald

A New York paper mill is slated to receive truckloads of compressed natural gas beginning next month as a workaround for a canceled underground gas pipeline.

According to NG Advantage, the Colchester-based gas transportation company behind the semi-truck delivery route called a “virtual pipeline” by the company, the switch from fuel oil to North American natural gas is expected to save International Paper Company’s Ticonderoga, N.Y., paper mill about 32,000 gallons of oil every day. Deliveries to Ticonderoga are scheduled begin in May.

International Paper had previously planned on an underground pipeline from Vermont to Ticonderoga, but the pipeline project was rescinded after cost estimates proved prohibitive.

Donna Wadsworth, International Paper communications manager, said the cost to build an underground line from Middlebury to Ticonderoga was disclosed in January. It became obvious to the company that the project was too expensive, she said.

But International Paper was always planning to use NG Advantage’s virtual pipeline while the underground line was installed — and with cancellation of the underground line, International Paper decided to invest in NG Advantage’s truck tanker delivery system as a long-term solution.

NG Advantage operates two gas compression sites along established gas pipelines. At the compression facilities, specially designed carbon-fiber trailers are loaded with natural gas for roadway transportation.

Receiving docks at sites such as the Ticonderoga paper mill then take delivery of the natural gas.

Mary Evslin, vice president of marketing for NG Advantage, said the company searches for large plants that don’t use natural gas — like the Ticonderoga mill — or plants that are served only by a small natural gas line.

The cancellation of the pipeline planned to carry natural gas under Lake Champlain to the IP mill was an ideal opportunity to expand business, she said.

“We can provide trucked natural gas to them with the virtual pipeline, without the capital expense of paying for an underground pipeline,” she said.

Evslin reported fuel-oil plants can reduce their CO2 output on average by 26 percent when they switch to NG Advantage’s natural gas.

She said anywhere between 16 to 20 trucks a day will ferry natural gas to the mill, displacing about 60 percent of the mill’s oil requirement.

The underground line would have supplied 95 percent of the mill’s energy needs, Wadsworth said. Despite the drastic reduction in gas volume, she is still pleased to see the virtual pipeline gain traction.

“It’s an opportunity for us to move towards cleaner fuel with much less of an environmental footprint,” she said. “We’re seeing the ability to utilize natural gas as a step forward for the mill. We’re delighted to have this option. The amount we’re going to be using initially can be increased, certainly, but it’s a significantly good environmental project for us.”

Tom Evslin is AG Advantage’s CEO. After the cancellation of the underground line to Ticonderoga, he said the company was eager to offer an energy alternative following the cancellation of the Ticonderoga line.

“We are proud to use our equipment, technology and experience to deliver the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas using our ‘Private Virtual Pipeline’ to the Ticonderoga mill and to contribute to the economy of that region,” he said.

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