File photo/Peninsula Clarion In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo Charlie Martinez, Chris Luttrell and Noe Marquez, all of Hilburn Builders Inc., work on the building that holds CINGSA's compressors. Two compressors move gas from an existing pipeline into a short spur under Bridge Access Road, where it will be injected during summer months nearly a mile underground into a depleted gas reservoir for wintertime use. ENSTAR Natural Gas company has begun work on a gas transport pipeline that runs along Bridge Access Road which will connect the company's Cook Inlet facilities to the CINGSA storage facility.

Enstar begins pipeline work

Enstar Natural Gas company has begun work on a gas transport pipeline alongside Bridge Access Road in Kenai. According to Enstar communications manager Lindsay Hobson, the 16-inch diameter pipeline will lie four to five feet underground and run four miles, connecting Enstar’s Cook Inlet facilities to the CINGSA gas storage area in Kenai. Approximately 3,000 feet of the pipeline will run beneath the bed of the Kenai river.

Enstar currently transmits gas between these facilities through the Kenai-Nikiski pipeline owned by Hilcorp, to which Enstar pays a transport tariff. Enstar’s director of business development John Sims said that the new pipeline will help Enstar’s business and infrastructure.

“It’s something we’ve been planning for the last year,” Sims said of the pipeline. “It’s about a $10 million project, and it should provide some good efficiencies, redundancies, and also some potential savings for customers.”

Sims said that the currently frozen ground in the normally muddy area bordering the Kenai River will make it easier for crews to dig the trench and lay the pipe. Freezing temperatures will also aid construction by allowing Enstar to drive its trenching machinery into the area on temporary ice roads, which are now being created with water from a CINGSA well.

“Having the flexibility to operate on the ice as opposed to the summer when it’s muck and wetlands makes it significantly easier for trenching,” Sims said.

Hobson said that the overall construction is expected to be complete by June, and that the work along Bridge Access Road is expected to last eight weeks.

According to Hobson, 22 permits were required for the project. Permits were granted by the Alaska Department of Transportation, which owns the right-of-way through which the pipeline will run, and by the Department of Fish and Game, which gave permission to build across a stream in the pipeline’s path.

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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