Tampa Airport May Get Competing Fuel Pipeline

April 26, 2007
Kinder Morgan's 8-inch pipeline would compete with a 6-inch pipeline that Tampa Pipeline Corp. runs from Port Tampa near MacDill Air Force Base to Tampa International.

Apr. 25 -- TAMPA -- A Houston company wants to build a 9-mile pipeline to carry up to 1.26 million gallons of jet fuel a day from the Port of Tampa to Tampa International Airport.

Kinder Morgan says it hasn't determined a route from its storage tanks at Hooker's Point, about two miles southeast of downtown, but wants the $25 million pipeline completed by the end of 2008.

"The construction will not displace any neighborhoods," spokeswoman Emily Mir Thompson said Tuesday. "Construction that occurs in roads will be done as quickly as practical to minimize any disruptions to the general public."

City and other agency officials said they know little about the proposal, except that it would have to clear regulatory hurdles.

"It's certainly something we can accommodate," Tampa Port Authority Director Richard Wainio said.

Kinder Morgan's 8-inch pipeline would compete with a 6-inch pipeline that runs from Port Tampa near MacDill Air Force Base to Tampa International.

Opened in 1971, the Port Tampa pipeline pumps up to 756,000 gallons of jet fuel daily, according to operator Tampa Pipeline Corp. Buried about three feet, it runs approximately along West Shore Boulevard, turning east near West Cleveland Street and then north near Manhattan Avenue before entering TIA near International Plaza.

"We are pushing as much fuel to the airport as they can handle, and we could double the volume," said Bob Rose, president of Tampa Pipeline.

In a quarterly earnings report released last week, Kinder Morgan said it will increase its storage capacity at Hooker's Point by about 45 percent to 16.2 million gallons.

The company, which operates an approximately 85-mile pipeline from Hooker's Point to Orlando International Airport and also supplies smaller regional airports by truck, said it has reached a long-term agreement with a consortium of airlines at TIA.

Hooker's Point is more accessible to larger vessels than the older docks at Port Tampa, which gets most of its supplies by smaller barges. The largest vessels reaching Hooker's Point can carry about 12.6 million gallons of fuel.

By tapping into supplies at Port Tampa and Hooker's Point, Tampa International is less vulnerable to shortages such as those after Hurricane Katrina, said Ted Leslie, TIA's properties director.

He said the airport has long-term plans to expand its storage capacity beyond the existing five- to seven-day supply. Passenger traffic is soaring, with plans for a $1.5 billion terminal within 10 years.

Rose said his company has proposed building a pipeline from Hooker's Point to Port Tampa to connect with the existing pipeline to TIA. He said the project would use railroad right of way and cost about $5 million.

Leslie and Wainio said Kinder Morgan hasn't briefed them about details of the project, which would require right of way permits and environmental approval.

Building on the Port of Tampa's industrial land "may be the least of their worries," Wainio said.

Reporter Mark Holan can be reached at (813) 835-2102, or .

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