Pipeline yard roars to life near Treasure Hills

HARLINGEN — Churning dust and the roar of 18-wheelers mark the Valley Crossing Pipeline construction yard near the Treasure Hills area.

Every four to five minutes, another semi-trailer loaded with a single 42-inch, approximately 60-foot steel pipe lumbers into the 200-acre site on East Treasure Hills Boulevard.

The staging area is one of several Valley Crossing has created in support of its $1.5 billion, 168-mile natural gas pipeline project stretching from Agua Dulce to Brownsville, and eventually underwater to connect with Mexico’s Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline.

“The reason for the project is it’s moving gas to the Mexican state facility CFE, or Comision Federal de Electricidad, because they’re transitioning from dirtier fuels to increase their electric grid reliability and lower emissions,” said Devin Hotzel, a spokesperson for Valley Crossing.

Hotzel said the pipeline project, which was awarded to Valley Crossing by the Mexican CFE in 2016, should be completed by October 2018.

He said the pipeline project is not dependent on the potential construction of proposed LNG export terminals near Brownsville.

“We don’t have any plans like that in place,” he said. “The sole primary use for this gas is to go to Mexico for electric generation purposes, gas-fired electric generation.

“We’re not connected to any of those proposed LNG projects,” he added.

The Valley Crossing project, like the proposed LNG terminals, has been opposed by the Sierra Club-affiliated environmental group, SAVE RGV from LNG.

The new pipeline has its origins west of Corpus Christi in Agua Dulce, which is a hub of sorts to distribute natural gas produced in several areas of Texas.

The pipeline south to the Valley generally follows the course of I-69E/U.S. 77, Hotzel said.

When completed, the 42-inch pipe will be able to push 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas through the line each day.

“It’s an exciting project for South Texas,” Hotzel said. “Some of the benefits that are coming (are) cleaner and reduced emissions from Mexico, and that means cleaner air in South Texas.

“In terms of economic impact, we’re seeing that among the five counties we travel through (Nueces, Kleberg, Kenedy, Willacy and Cameron) something in the neighborhood of $183 million in property taxes will be paid out over 35 years,” he added.

Hotzel said Valley Crossing partnered with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to complete an economic impact study on the project and researchers found the pipeline construction will have an impact of around $300 million, and create around 1,300 construction jobs.

Valley Crossing Pipeline is owned by Enbridge Inc., formerly Spectra Energy Corp.

Valley Crossing Pipeline Facts

TYPE: 42-inch, intrastate natural gas pipeline

LENGTH: 168 miles

STARTS: Agua Dulce, west of Corpus Christi

ENDS: Near Brownsville, then under gulf into Mexico

PURPOSE: Export natural gas to Mexico

COMPLETION: October 2018

OWNER: Valley Crossing Pipeline is owned by Enbridge Inc., formerly Spectra Energy Corp.