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Gas tap MOU approved

With no discussion, supervisors in Buckingham County unanimously adopted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday that would allow the county access and control of 200 acres along a proposed lateral line off of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

E.M. Wright Jr.

Last month, County Attorney E.M. Wright told supervisors “we finally have reached a tentative MOU with, it would be ACP, Columbia Gas, Kyanite (Mining Corp.), Blue Rock (Resources) and this board of supervisors. Understanding that this is only a MOU, it sort of sets forth the expectations of how things will move forward.”

According to the adopted MOU, “Kyanite is a producer of industrial minerals and a potential natural gas consumer with operations in Buckingham County … Blue Rock Resources is the owner of certain land located in Buckingham County situated between the proposed route of the ACP and Kyanite’s operation in Buckingham County, and … the county board is interested in facilitating access to natural gas for Kyanite and other industrial companies located or that might locate in the county.”

In November, Wright told supervisors that Kyanite Mining — Buckingham’s largest private sector employer — was working with Columbia Gas and ACP “to acquire a tap, metering and a decompression station and construction of a lateral pipeline off of (the ACP) that will provide natural gas to (Kyanite).”

“If a company that needed the gas wanted to come here, we have the opportunity to market that land there where the tap’s going to be,” County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter said following the board’s Monday vote.

Carter agreed the tap is positive for potential economic development for the county.

Rebecca S. Carter

“I think it can be, yes,” she said of the tap being an economic game-changer for Buckingham’s economy. “What we’re told is that 90 percent of the clients, and this is coming from the Virginia Growth Alliance, are looking for gas,” Carter said.

The concept of the MOU, Wright said last month, was that “Atlantic Coast is building a pipeline that comes through the county. There’s not enough gas demand that Atlantic Coast can deal directly with any one person or any one entity in this county, so Columbia Gas is the proprietary owner of the rights in this area and has to contract with gas users when the amount is of that level. There is a need for (gas) at Kyanite, and they had entered into some original discussions with Columbia and Atlantic Coast about the possibility of getting natural gas to use with their operation. That is proceeding with some healthy discussion going on.”

Wright said amid the conversations between ACP and Kyanite came the notion “that the county could gain control over approximately 200 acres of land on which a lateral (line) off of the pipeline that would operate … that we could develop, if we chose to … an industrial site that we could market as having natural gas and maybe developing enough to have other amenities there that people might find it attractive.”

“The hundreds of Virginia property owners forced to surrender their land to Dominion for the ACP will not benefit from this proposed tap, nor will the residents and businesses impacted by a hazardous fuel pipeline placed on or near their communities, farms and operations,” said Joseph Abbate, speaking on behalf of Friends of Buckingham.

Guy Dixon

“Kyanite Mining Corporation is glad to hear that the board of supervisors has moved forward with the MOU, and we are proud to be able to play a small role in helping to bring a natural gas hook-up to Buckingham County,” said Kyanite Mining Corp. President Guy Dixon.

In a previous interview, he noted that “being able to burn natural gas here at Kyanite is something that the company has looked at various times for the better part of 30-40 years. An access point has always been so far away (it’s) been completely ridiculous from an economic standpoint.”

“We’re working and very close to having arranged an option with Kyanite where we can purchase, for a fixed dollar amount, up to 200 acres,” Wright said last month. “That 200 acres cannot be definitively (sited now) … I can’t say it’s that 200 acres or that 200 acres … because there’s still some necessity for that lateral line to come from (the ACP) to the Kyanite operation.”

The tap to the lateral line from the 42-inch ACP, Wright said in November, would carry enough capacity “to handle the needs of Kyanite, plus maybe three to four companies the size of Kyanite.”

Kyanite is the world’s largest producer of the industrial minerals kyanite and mullite, according to its website. Refractories — heat-resistant materials that constitute the linings for high-temperature furnaces and reactors — consume a majority of the minerals.

The 600-mile ACP project calls for a natural gas pipeline to be constructed, starting in West Virginia, spanning Virginia and ending in North Carolina. The pipeline’s route is set to span Buckingham County. In January, county supervisors approved a special use permit for a hotly-contested 53,783-horsepower compressor station, slated to be constructed between Shelton Store and Union Hill roads on Route 56. The ACP project overall has been hotly contested in Buckingham.

In August, Wright said that off of the proposed lateral line a pump station would be constructed.

“And we’re talking about substantial amounts of money to have that done,” Wright said.

The MOU calls for “An Aid to Construction Agreement between the County Board and (Columbia Gas of Virginia) under which Buckingham County will contribute $260,000 as an aid in construction toward the construction of the Lateral (line).”

“This memorandum agreement sets forth that the investment that the county would have in this operation would be $260,000. It would be for the development of that lateral (line, and) it would also give us the right with the option to acquire 200 acres of land which we could develop and either try to site things there in conjunction with the pump station and that lateral line, (or) we would have the ability to consider putting gas in other places in the county,” Wright said last month.

According to the MOU, agreements between Kyanite, Columbia, Blue Rock and Atlantic “will result in the construction of a lateral pipeline extending approximately 13,000 feet … from a Metering and Regulating station on ACP to be located in Buckingham County to a site that will enable service to the existing Kyanite operations in the County.”

The county’s access to the tap and control of the 200 acres, along with Kyanite’s access to the natural gas, are contingent on federal regulators approving the project, which is being led by Dominion.