Electric Power Consumption in South Texas – Growing Due to Eagle Ford Development

Power lines are supplying thousands more with electricity than they were just a few years ago

In response to client inquiries, I’ve estimated the rate of growth for electric power consumption in the Eagle Ford area. The client is interested in pipelines running in close proximity to high-voltage AC power lines. By looking at the “Electric Reliability Council of Texas” (ERCOT) website and mining their data for counties in South Texas, here are some interesting facts:

1. For the South Texas region including Maverick, Zavala, Atascosa, Live Oak, Bee, Goliad and Refugio Counties, and all counties south of that line, electricity demand has grown at least five percent a year from 2008 through the end of 2011. The growth from 2010 to mid-2012 has been eight to ten percent a year;

2. The Rio Grande Valley’s general growth in population appears to be about two percent per year. Corpus Christi is growing at about one percent a year; Laredo is probably growing at three percent per year. These estimates come from what appear to be credible internet sources. So more generalized population growth in South Texas may be two percent a year, in the population centers mentioned above;

3. What this leaves, for explanation of recent growth rate, is the Eagle Ford Shale development – which affects all of the counties along the northerly line of this “South Texas” geography, and many more counties southward. And it’s just the southwest half of the Eagle Ford that gets described – I did not gather data on Wilson, Karnes, DeWitt, Gonzales and other prolific Eagle Ford counties to the northeast.

[Read more…]

AC-Induced Corrosion on Pipelines in the Eagle Ford Shale

AC-induced corrosion can be a severe threat to pipeline integrity

New pipeline construction is going “fast and furious” in the Eagle Ford Shale region, in the West Texas “Wolfcamp”, “Bone Spring” and related shales, and all across mid-America with the Bakken, Niobrara and other successful unconventional oil and gas plays.  Companies who build and operate pipelines must attract customers with product to move, secure the land over which pipeline right-of-ways will be cobbled together, and then construct the pipelines.

What happens when a pipeline runs near a high-voltage AC power line? [Read more…]

Corrosion Control in the Eagle Ford Shale

Corrosion control is always a factor in oilfield work.  Above-ground tanks, pipelines, and all manners of equipment suffer from corrosion, both internal and external in nature.  The farther south and west one moves across the Eagle Ford play, the more two interesting physical facts come to dominate external corrosion control needs.

Maverick, Dimmit, Zavala, Webb, La Salle, McMullen, Frio, Atascosa, Live Oak and Bee Counties have shallow soils which often contain large concentrations of chloride ion.  This comes from salt deposited when ancient ocean shorelines ranged across the region.  High chloride ion content causes aggressive corrosion rates on unprotected steel.  Just as importantly, the sodium and chloride ions, often found with other ions as well, cause the soil’s electrical resistivity to be very low.  The low electrical resistance means high corrosion current flows, which again accelerates attack on unprotected steel.  Pipelines are buried in this soil.  Tanks are set on it. [Read more…]