Hampton Roads Crossing Pipeline
What is HRX?
The Hampton Roads Crossing (HRX) pipeline project was completed in January 2010 and connects two gas distribution systems within the Virginia Natural Gas service area. Prior to HRX, the Virginia Natural Gas distribution system was divided into two non-contiguous pipeline systems (Southern and Northern) due to the geography of the Hampton Roads harbor. The Southern pipeline served the areas of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Suffolk in south side Hampton Roads. The northern pipeline served Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York, James City, Williamsburg, New Kent, and Charles City on the Peninsula, as well as Hanover and King William counties.
Prior to HRX, on a peak day each system was fed by a single gas supplier: Columbia Gas Transmission in the Southern system and Dominion Transmission in the Northern system, making them vulnerable to gas disruptions. HRX eliminates each system’s reliance on a single pipeline. Additionally, this pipeline helps ensure a reliable and competitively-priced natural gas supply required to meet the ever-increasing growth and demand needs for Hampton Roads.
The availability of additional supply to both areas ensures all customers are getting the most favorable price advantage of existing gas supplies. Because of the constraint on the systems prior to HRX, VNG sometimes had to base its use of gas on considerations other than price.
How does HRX benefit me?
- Reliability – The gas supply to the Southern Division is now more reliable as customers no longer have to rely on a single distribution system. In fact, in the winter of 2010, Virginia Natural Gas was able to serve customers without interruption despite disruptions on one of the major supply pipelines. Reliability is also crucial to the military facilities in the Southern Division that rely on natural gas including the Norfolk Naval Station, Oceana Naval Air Station, Little Creek Amphibious Base, Dam Neck Naval Training Station and Fort Story.
- Increased/Stable Supply - The pipeline allows for the delivery of additional supply, and eliminates the deficit in our design day delivery (our ability to deliver gas to all of our customers on the coldest day of the year). Essentially, this means that on the very coldest days VNG has traditionally had to rely on additional, and sometimes costly, means of supplying enough gas to our customers. The HRX pipeline provides us with a mechanism to ensure ample supply to customers in the Northern and Southern parts of our system every day.
- Supply Diversity – Hampton Roads now has a gateway to access additional supplies of Marcellus Shale, Rockies and other gas supplies – meaning a broader array of supply options as well as operational and cost flexibility. Additionally, because Virginia Natural Gas is no longer solely reliant on supply from the Gulf Coast, customers are less likely to be affected by a hurricane that affects natural gas supplied by that region.
The HRX pipeline project provides economic development opportunities for businesses to expand or even relocate because of improved access to supply. Virginia Natural Gas customers benefit from a competitively-priced gas supply which also is a significant factor in economic development for the region.
In addition to serving VNG customers, the HRX pipeline and compressors are providing additional supplies to Dominion Virginia Power at some of its gas-fired electric generating plants in central Virginia and Columbia Gas of Virginia for its gas customers in Portsmouth and Fredericksburg.
About the Pipeline
The HRX pipeline project is a 24 inch diameter pipeline connecting the northern and southern systems of Virginia Natural Gas. The project included construction of approximately 15.5 miles of onshore pipeline in Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth and 5.5 miles crossing the Hampton Roads harbor and Elizabeth River. The project also included construction of upstream pipeline compression facilities in Caroline and Charles City Counties, and a city gate station at the termination point in Norfolk. The project was designed to transport up to 100,000 dekatherms per day of additional capacity into the VNG distribution system, as well as additional capacity to industrial users and neighboring distribution companies. The project was completed with initial deliveries of gas into Norfolk in January 2010.
VNG designed the project to minimize impacts to the community and the environment. The company used existing utility corridors and public right of way wherever possible and used a directional drilling method to install the pipeline in areas where it would minimize impacts to wetlands, oyster beds and waterways. The project required approval from various federal and state agencies as well as the affected localities.
What oversight was there to ensure the project was completed responsibly and safely?
The three major oversight agencies included the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), Division of Utility and Railroad Safety. The DEQ provided oversight to ensure the most appropriate measures were implemented to minimize any potential impacts to the environment along the pipeline route. The DCR provided close inspection for adherence to erosion and sediment control procedures, ensuring compliance with issues that are crucial to protecting the surrounding environment. The SCC oversees the construction and maintenance of all natural gas pipelines in the state. Pipeline operators are subject to the Federal Code of Regulations, Part 191 and 192, which make up the Pipeline Safety Regulations. The SCC has both inspection and enforcement jurisdiction over state pipeline operators with respect to this code and monitored the construction of HRX closely to ensure compliance.