Exxon/Denbury CO2 Pipeline Leaks in Louisiana, Triggering Shelter in Place Order

The Denbury pipeline has had 11 major leaks since 2010 including two in Sataria, Mississippi.

Pipeline Fighters HUB News
By Mark Hefflinger APRIL 5, 2024

Denbury CO2 pipeline leak near Sulphur, La. on April 3.

Denbury CO2 pipeline leak near Sulphur, La. on April 3. (Image: Calcasieu Parish Police Jury)

A pipeline operated by Exxon-owned Denbury carrying highly-pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) experienced a “leak” on Wednesday, April 3 that caused a release of CO2 that prompted a shelter-in-place order to be issued near the town of Sulphur, Louisiana.

Local TV station KPLC reported that “Calcasieu emergency preparedness officials said the Denbury pipeline was blocked off around 8:25 p.m. and the shelter-in-place order lifted shortly after. The order was issued because wind was keeping the released gas close to the ground.”

The shelter-in-place order was issued for the area within a quarter-mile radius from the 300 block of Bankens Road, where a Denbury pump station for the pipeline is located in a rural neighborhood, surrounded by homes. It was later confirmed by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), who are reported to be on site and investigating along with the company, according to the Pipeline Safety Trust — that the leak took place at Exxon/Denbury’s Lake Charles Pumping Station for Denbury’s 24-inch Green Pipeline.

The incident was reported to the National Response Center (NRC) as being associated with the pump station’s “smart pig launcher site.” The NRC reports a possible “O-ring” or seal failure, as potential incident causation. A “smart pig (Pipeline Inspection Gauge)” is a tool used to examine a pipeline’s integrity by being placed in the interior and running sensors and cameras along the pipe’s length.

At this stage in its investigation, PHMSA said the smart pig launcher site is isolated and there is no ongoing threat, according to the Pipeline Safety Trust. PHMSA’s investigation is ongoing, and to this point there has still been no estimated volume of CO2 released to be publicly disclosed.



Exxon/Denbury Green Pipeline route through Sulphur, La.

We have reached out to the Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for more information about the incident, when the leak was first detected, when the line was eventually shut off by Denbury, and how the shelter-in-place order was determined and issued, among other remaining questions.

PHMSA is currently in the midst of updating regulations for CO2 pipelines, which have been in the works for more than a year and are not expected to be made public for comment until later this year. Exxon/Denbury have issued no public response to the incident nearly 48 hours later.

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