Northern Access Project

Frequently Asked Questions


Stakeholders' questions regarding the Northern Access Project will be posted with corresponding answers as they are received.



  1. Where is the "domestically-produced" natural gas coming from since fracking is not permitted in New York state?
  2. I know that National Fuel has a Northern Access 2015 Project. Is this the same project?
  3. What is the final destination of the natural gas?
  4. Is the project fully funded by National Fuel?
  5. Is 1 pipeline being built or 2 pipelines?
  6. How much say do land owners have in this process?
  7. Who are the land agents?
  8. When surveying, how many people will be present, does the land owner need to be home, and how long will the surveying take?
  9. If everyone were to say "no" to the land survey, what happens to the project?
  10. Will the "right-of-ways" (ROWs) be concurrent with the existing power lines?
  11. Why not just follow the power lines the entire way for the natural gas pipelines?
  12. Why can't the pipeline route use abandoned railroad tracks?
  13. How do we sign up for something (ROWs) when we don't know where it will go?
  14. How far away from houses and structures must the pipeline be?
  15. If we disagree with the pipeline location on our land, will National Fuel use eminent domain?
  16. What kind of compensation can be expected for the ROWs? Are we better off hiring legal expertise to negotiate? Is compensation a one-shot deal?
  17. Will National Fuel maintain ROWs cut in forested areas?
  18. How often do you maintain the ROW with cutting, trimming, etc.?
  19. Do you use chemicals to clear the ROWs of vegetation?
  20. Will National Fuel replant trees that were taken down for the pipeline construction?
  21. Existing wetlands house endangered species. How close will the project get to these protected areas?
  22. Is there compensation for sugar maple trees?
  23. Do we still own the land? Can we post for non-trespassing?
  24. Is the landowner responsible for property taxes on the pipeline ROW?
  25. Will there be property access for landowners across the pipelines? What are the access restrictions?
  26. Are snow mobiles or ATVs allowed on the ROWs?
  27. How are the pipelines maintained for safety?
  28. Are the pipelines above ground
  29. What is the anticipated pressure?
  30. You mentioned that the pipe will be 24 inches, which will carry a great deal of natural gas. Will shut-off valves be used to maintain safety?
  31. Does the possibility of earthquakes raise a concern for the safety of the pipeline?
  32. Does frost have any effect on pipelines as this winter had extreme frost conditions?
  33. Will this pipeline project mean that we will now have natural gas service to heat our homes?
  34. Then how does this project benefit the landowners?
  35. How are the fields of organic farmers handled to preserve their certification as an "organic farm?"
  36. What about road damage? How do you handle that?
  37. I understand the need for more natural gas, but companies need to improve their communications with property owners. They should not be allowed to encroach on private property without proper notification.
  38. Is this project going to provide any local employment?
  39. What will this pipeline do to my property value in case I want to sell my house?
  40. Is the compressor equipment made in America?
  41. What do the flags and stakes in the ground represent?
  42. How many compressors does it take locally to run the pipeline?
  43. Once the pipeline is in operation, what kind of maintenance is required?
  44. If I request to be present when surveying is done on my property, what measures do you have in place to ensure my request is honored?
  45. How many miles does the pipeline run?
  46. Why are there restrictions of 25 feet separation from the power line?
  47. Are there situations that require more than 25 feet from the power line?
  48. Will you restore private roads?
  49. Can small producers of shale gas use the pipeline for distribution?
  50. How do you handle crossing the power line if the situation calls for a crossover?
  51. How can I confirm the flags and stakes in my lawn are from National Fuel?
  52. How many private companies would have to show interest in drilling wells before a major pipeline would be installed?
  53. Do you have room on the pipeline for new load?
  54. If the pipeline comes through a local road, will the road be shut down and if so, for how long?
  55. If you decide to reroute off of a property, when will that landowner be notified?
  56. Are the local firefighters equipped with the knowledge to handle any safety issues that arise in the process of laying the pipeline?
  57. If I lease my land, does compensation go through the landowner or the lessee?
  58. Is there any surface equipment left behind?
  59. Will you fence off the trench line in residential areas?
  60. If loggers have to get across the pipeline, how will their equipment affect the pipeline?
  61. Will the surveyor make note of logger roads or is that the landowner's responsibility?
  62. Is there a contract involved in this process?
  63. Will you go through permitted gravel mining areas?
  64. If we are building new property, what do we do if the pipeline goes through our building site?
  65. If the pipeline prevents me from getting to my acreage, who do I talk to?
  66. If I have farm land will I still be able to utilize the land on top of your ROW?
  67. Is the final route determined by the time the FERC filing is complete?
  68. When does a land owner know for sure what the final route will be?
  69. How tall is the dehydration pressure vessel?
  70. Are there emissions at the dehydration site?
  71. Where do you connect to Canada?
  72. Is there noise with the dehydrator?
  73. Is there a barrier around the dehydrator? Will it affect the storm water in my backyard?
  74. Will there be any run off besides rain water?
  75. Is the glycol you use recyclable?
  76. Will you release the emissions test results?
  77. Will there be staffing for the compressor station?
  78. Have you considered putting the compressor station in the same location as the dehydration station?

  1. Where is the "domestically-produced" natural gas coming from since fracking is not permitted in New York state?

    • The gas is from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale.

  2. I know that National Fuel has a Northern Access 2015 Project. Is this the same project?

    • No, Northern Access and Northern Access 2015 are separate projects with different proposed facilities.

  3. What is the final destination of the natural gas?

    • The purpose of the project is to provide an outlet for natural gas production in north-central Pennsylvania, connecting it to the interstate pipeline system. That system connects to markets in the northeastern U.S. and mid-Atlantic regions as well as eastern Canada. The new sections of pipeline will interconnect specifically with the existing Trans Canada and Tennessee Gas Pipeline systems.

  4. Is the project fully funded by National Fuel?

    • Yes, we do not seek any government funding or incentives.

  5. Is 1 pipeline being built or 2 pipelines?

    • We will be building 2 sections of new 24-inch pipeline.

  6. How much say do land owners have in this process?

    • National Fuel will work with landowners in an effort to resolve any site-specific routing issues, and in this regard, is very interested in hearing from landowners affected by the project. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal government agency with jurisdiction over the project, will seek input from landowners as it considers National Fuel's application. Landowners will have the opportunity to intervene in the FERC proceedings, to submit written comments, or to make statements at a public meeting to be scheduled by the FERC. The FERC takes all public comments into consideration in reaching its decision on the proposed project.

  7. Who are the land agents?

    • Land agents are contracted professionals retained by National Fuel to communicate with land owners about this project and attempt to gain permission for land surveying. After the determination of a final pipeline route, land agents will negotiate right-of-way agreements or ROWs.

  8. When surveying, how many people will be present, does the land owner need to be home, and how long will the surveying take?

    • Surveying will be performed by up to 5 separate teams: Routing, Civil, Environmental, Archaeological and Endangered Species survey groups. These groups will work in succession, with routing being the first step. Each individual survey group is not anticipated to be on a land owner's property for an extended period of time. However, the various survey groups will be working throughout the remainder of the year to complete the necessary survey work. If requested, prior notification will be provided to landowners before survey work begins. National Fuel may also need to survey your land at different times of the year based on seasonal field conditions and the requirements of the individual studies. Follow-up surveys may be required during 2015.

  9. If everyone were to say "no" to the land survey, what happens to the project?

    • National Fuel's intent is to reach out to all project stakeholders. The land survey process benefits both parties. National Fuel plans to proceed with its application for the project, which is designed to meet the public interest in providing sufficient natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

  10. Will the "right-of-ways" (ROWs) be concurrent with the existing power lines?

    • Crossover of pipeline right-of-ways in the existing power lines' right-of-ways is anticipated to occur. We will work in cooperation with the applicable power companies to use the existing cleared area and minimize additional clearing where possible.

  11. Why not just follow the power lines the entire way for the natural gas pipelines?

    • Mirroring the power line ROW for the entire length of the project may not be possible based on the terrain, environmental features, population, and other factors.

  12. Why can't the pipeline route use abandoned railroad tracks?

    • Railroad tracks are typically located in areas with a more dense population, and are often surrounded by wetlands, neither of which work well for pipeline construction.

  13. How do we sign up for something (ROWs) when we don't know where it will go?

    • National Fuel is just beginning the process of determining the location of the pipeline. At this point we are asking your permission for access to your property for survey purposes only. This in no way commits you to a right-of-way agreement. The survey is our first opportunity to work with you, the landowner, to determine the best possible route for the pipeline.

  14. How far away from houses and structures must the pipeline be?

    • National Fuel will customarily avoid landscaped yards and close proximity to residences where practicable. If a residence is located within 50 feet of the near edge of the construction work area, we will file and abide by a site specific Residential Mitigation Plan utilizing the applicable FERC requirements. This may include limited work hours and a construction fence to prevent unauthorized access to the construction area by children, pets or neighbors.

  15. If we disagree with the pipeline location on our land, will National Fuel use eminent domain?

    • Should the project receive a FERC certificate, National Fuel would be granted eminent domain to acquire necessary ROWs, but would use eminent domain only as a last resort. Historically, there have been very few landowners with whom we could not come to a mutual agreement. The company's goal is to negotiate ROWs with all affected landowners to the satisfaction of both the landowner and the company.

  16. What kind of compensation can be expected for the ROWs? Are we better off hiring legal expertise to negotiate? Is compensation a one-shot deal?

    • At this point, we do not have a specific figure as it depends on the total acreage affected, the land use, and the location of the property. Whether residents decide to seek legal representation is a personal choice. Concerning compensation, land owners would receive a single payment at the time the right-of-way agreement is executed. A right-of-way agreement represents the purchase of an interest in land. Damage payments may occur over a period of years depending on the nature of the damage.

  17. Will National Fuel maintain ROWs cut in forested areas?

    • Yes, National Fuel will clear and maintain all pipeline permanent ROWs.

  18. How often do you maintain the ROW with cutting, trimming, etc.?

    • Every year we will mow a maintenance strip on the ROW (10 feet). The full width of the permanent ROW (50 feet wide) will be cleared every 3 years. We cannot clear the full ROW width in designated wetland areas, and there are periods during the year (April 15- August 1) when we cannot perform routine ROW clearing because of the need to protect migratory bird habitats.

  19. Do you use chemicals to clear the ROWs of vegetation?

    • No, we use only mechanical means to clear and maintain our ROWs.

  20. Will National Fuel replant trees that were taken down for the pipeline construction?

    • No, any temporary easement area would be allowed to naturally re-vegetate or can be re-seeded by the landowner. However, trees may not be planted on the permanent ROWs as those corridors must remain clear and accessible at all times. Wetlands, on the other hand, must be allowed to re-vegetate.

  21. Existing wetlands house endangered species. How close will the project get to these protected areas?

    • We will work with our environmental consultants as well as state and local agencies to identify any endangered or protected species. In some cases, we may need to re-route the proposed pipeline to avoid such an area.

  22. Is there compensation for sugar maple trees?

    • We attempt to work around these trees since they are on the FERC's "special interest" list.

  23. Do we still own the land? Can we post for non-trespassing?

    • National Fuel will have a right-of-way agreement for the purposes of constructing, operating and maintaining a single natural gas pipeline. You will still own the property. We can assist you in deterring trespassers with the placement of a gate, fence or other barrier, if requested.

  24. Is the landowner responsible for property taxes on the pipeline ROW?

    • Yes, the landowner is responsible for property taxes.

  25. Will there be property access for landowners across the pipelines? What are the access restrictions?

    • National Fuel does not intend to inhibit the normal use of your land. However, property owners should consider the potential future use of their property in order for National Fuel to plan accordingly. Designing the pipeline to accommodate planned future use is easier than addressing this use with an encroachment agreement after construction. National Fuel takes precautions to ensure that potential commercial or industrial activities don't jeopardize the integrity of the pipeline. For example, we can put in thicker wall pipe to allow for planned access roads or other utility crossings. Once the ROW is in place, we have an encroachment agreement which stipulates that no buildings and no permanent crops are permitted on the permanent ROW.

  26. Are snow mobiles or ATVs allowed on the ROWs?

    • National Fuel prefers that these activities do not occur on the pipeline ROW, as they can result in erosion and eventual loss of cover. We can, though, accommodate these activities at the landowner's request, especially if planned into the original design of the project. We cannot provide permission for others to use your land.

  27. How are the pipelines maintained for safety?

    • The first step for safety is to build a high quality pipeline. Modern pipelines are coated steel, protected from corrosion by cathodic protection. We use X-ray technology on 100 percent of the pipeline welds, with certified X-ray technicians, followed by a full pipeline hydrotest to ensure proper construction of the pipelines. A piece of equipment called a "smart pig" is used to inspect pipelines from the inside to ensure the continued integrity of the pipeline. In addition, foot and air patrols, and corrosion system monitoring are conducted according to Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements.

  28. Are the pipelines above ground?

    • These are transmission pipelines that will be located underground, with a minimum of 3 feet of cover (4 feet in agricultural areas). Other than pipeline markers and test stations, installed pursuant to DOT regulations, there will be the need for mainline valves located above ground along the route. Main line valve locations will be determined during the design phase and reviewed with the affected landowners. However, these mainline valves will affect only a few landowners. National Fuel will work with those landowners to properly site the valves.

  29. What is the anticipated pressure?

    • The pipeline will be built to handle 1,440 psi (pounds per square inch) but will likely operate at approximately 1,100 psi.

  30. You mentioned that the pipe will be 24 inches, which will carry a great deal of natural gas. Will shut-off valves be used to maintain safety?

    • Yes, main line valves will be needed to comply with DOT regulations. The locations of the valves will vary from 8 to 10 miles apart. The main line valves are equipped with remote control capability, and may be operated both remotely or manually.

  31. Does the possibility of earthquakes raise a concern for the safety of the pipeline?

    • Sesimic activity has not historically been a significant issue in New York and Pennsylvania. However, this will be researched and the appropriate design criteria will be implemented as necessary.

  32. Does frost have any effect on pipelines as this winter had extreme frost conditions?

    • Frost has no material effect on transmission pipelines.

  33. Will this pipeline project mean that we will now have natural gas service to heat our homes?

    • National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation and Empire Pipeline, Inc. are the entities involved in this project. These entities are not natural gas utilities that provide residential and non-residential service for home heating and other purposes. Supply and Empire are the "transporters" of the gas through high-pressure transmission lines, which operate at pressures that exceed the pressure required for residential use. While a pipeline project may provide an opportunity for area residents to have natural gas service, most rural areas such as those impacted by this project do not have the necessary infrastructure for utility service.

  34. Then how does this project benefit the landowners?

    • The Northern Access Project has a slated economic impact that will be significant for New York state, including more than $11.5 million in estimated annual property tax payments to the counties within which the project will be located. This project will also provide a one-time sales tax impact of approximately $6.6 million, which will benefit those same counties. For estimated property and sales tax revenues, please visit our News & Updates page.

  35. How are the fields of organic farmers handled to preserve their certification as an "organic farm?"

    • National Fuel has had prior experience in constructing pipelines across organic farms and will work with the appropriate certification agency to determine what guidelines must be met.

  36. What about road damage? How do you handle that?

    • Prior to construction, National Fuel will develop an extensive transportation plan that identifies which roads will be used as well as how much traffic the project will generate. National Fuel will work with municipalities as well as the New York and Pennsylvania DOT on a road use plan, paying attention to road weight limits and the fact that some secondary roads may not withstand heavy equipment traffic. Those roads will be avoided or, if necessary, bonded. Considerable time, effort and documentation go into these road plans prior to any construction activity.

  37. I understand the need for more natural gas, but companies need to improve their communications with property owners. They should not be allowed to encroach on private property without proper notification.

    • National Fuel has a landowner notification policy. Except for unusual circumstances requiring more immediate action, a land owner will receive written notification 5 days prior to any ground disturbance after the initial project is completed.

  38. Is this project going to provide any local employment?

    • During the construction phase of the project, approximately 1,000 to 1,200 jobs will be created with an additional multiplier effect in other businesses. Additional jobs within National Fuel, and other local companies, will be sustained once the project is in service.

  39. What will this pipeline do to my property value in case I want to sell my house?

    • The existence of the pipeline would be disclosed during the sale. National Fuel is unable to determine whether the new pipeline will impact each particular landowner's property value. In general, it has been our experience that the presence of a pipeline has little impact on the value of the property.

  40. Is the compressor equipment made in America?

    • Yes, we make every effort to buy American made equipment/materials.

  41. What do the flags and stakes in the ground represent?

    • The stakes mark the proposed path of the pipeline.

  42. How many compressors does it take locally to run the pipeline?

    • National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation would need to add approximately 5,000 horsepower of additional compression at our existing Porterville Compressor Station.

  43. Once the pipeline is in operation, what kind of maintenance is required?

    • There are a number of required checks on the pipeline throughout the year including foot and aerial patrols looking for encroachment and any damage to the pipeline or ROW; corrosion system checks; valve maintenance; and every 7 years, an internal inspection with a tool call a "smart pig," which checks the pipeline for any metal loss.

  44. If I request to be present when surveying is done on my property, what measures do you have in place to ensure my request is honored?

    • The land agents have a record of such requirements, which is included on mapping that our survey teams have access to.

  45. How many miles does the pipeline run?

    • National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. would construct 97 miles of new pipeline and Empire Pipeline, Inc. would replace 2 miles of existing line. In total, the system will stretch from the Clermont producer interconnection in McKean County, Pa, to the TransCanada Pipeline at the Chippawa Channel near Grand Island, N.Y.

  46. Why are there restrictions of 25 feet separation from the power line?

    • Safety concerns are the primary reason. The electrical safety code requires a safe zone from the outside conductor to our construction equipment.

  47. Are there situations that require more than 25 feet from the power line?

    • We are working with the power companies to determine routing around grounding rods, guy wires, etc.

  48. Will you restore private roads?

    • Yes, they will be restored to their original condition.

  49. Can small producers of shale gas use the pipeline for distribution?

    • These pipelines are generally built to handle large volumes of gas. Compressing small amounts of gas to the pressure necessary to enter transmission lines along with the installation of the required metering facilities is expensive. This generally precludes small volume interconnections from being economical.

  50. How do you handle crossing the power line if the situation calls for a crossover?

    • We try to avoid this where we can due to the costs and safety concerns. But if the situation calls for a crossover, we will utilize small equipment that can go under the power lines to extend the pipeline across.

  51. How can I confirm the flags and stakes in my lawn are from National Fuel?

    • National Fuel's centerline flags are pink. You can also confirm this with one of our land agents.

  52. How many private companies would have to show interest in drilling wells before a major pipeline would be installed?

    • Economics and production volumes will drive these decisions.

  53. Do you have room on the pipeline for new load?

    • We are a transportation company. If there is gas that needs to be transported, we would attempt to provide that service.

  54. If the pipeline comes through a local road, will the road be shut down and if so, for how long?

    • If there is only one way access, we will not shut down the road. We want to make sure that local traffic and emergency response crews have access to and across the roadways. If it is necessary to use the road way we will install steel plates across the trench line for traffic to cross over, or provide some other means to keep traffic flowing.

  55. If you decide to reroute off of a property, when will that landowner be notified?

    • The evaluation of a reroute can take time to have all of the technical disciplines evaluate that reroute. Once we have accepted that reroute as our preferred route, the land agents would notify the original landowner of the change. In addition, the FERC filing will identify the reroutes we have proposed.

  56. Are the local firefighters equipped with the knowledge to handle any safety issues that arise in the process of laying the pipeline?

    • We have emergency training once a year for local firefighters including drills and simulations. We rotate the training throughout our system.

  57. If I lease my land, does compensation go through the landowner or the lessee?

    • We work it out with the landowner as to who should be compensated.

  58. Is there any surface equipment left behind?

    • There are some minor surface facilities, such as pipeline line markers and signs (at streams and wetlands) that are installed with the pipeline. In addition, at regular intervals of about 10 miles, we need to install pipeline valves to isolate the system. We would work individually with landowners on the placement of these valves.

  59. Will you fence off the trench line in residential areas?

    • If the construction ROW is within 25 feet of a residence, we will develop a residential mitigation plan, which would include a requirement to fence the trench line for safety during construction. In all likelihood, it would also include construction time-of-day restrictions and specify limitations on tree removal, etc.

  60. If loggers have to get across the pipeline, how will their equipment affect the pipeline?

    • We try to get that into the construction plan so that we build the line stronger with heavier wall pipe and/or install it deeper. If that can't be done, we can install timber bridging at a later date.

  61. Will the surveyor make note of logger roads or is that the landowner's responsibility?

    • The surveyors pick up as many items as possible, such as logging roads, fence lines, survey pins, etc. If the landowner can identify roads they would like to use for logging at a later date, it would be best if they notify the land agent now so this can be incorporated into the construction plan.

  62. Is there a contract involved in this process?

    • Yes, there is a right-of-way agreement.

  63. Will you go through permitted gravel mining areas?

    • We will try to avoid this when possible. If a situation requires us to route through an active gravel pit, the landowner would be compensated for this as part of the damages.

  64. If we are building new property, what do we do if the pipeline goes through our building site?

    • Work with the land representative to determine the site for the development property. We will determine what kind of mitigation we can do and whether a reroute is necessary.

  65. If the pipeline prevents me from getting to my acreage, who do I talk to?

    • Talk to your land representative and make him/her aware of the issue.

  66. If I have farm land will I still be able to utilize the land on top of your ROW?

    • Absolutely. The only limitation is no long-lived, permanent crops such as trees.

  67. Is the final route determined by the time the FERC filing is complete?

    • No, we won't have any signed right-of-way agreements by the time we make the FERC filing. The filing will include a set of preliminary pipeline alignment maps, but we may file reroutes with FERC after the initial filing.

  68. When does a land owner know for sure what the final route will be?

    • When we recieve the final FERC certificate.

  69. How tall is the dehydration pressure vessel?

    • Approximately 30 feet tall.

  70. Are there emissions at the dehydration site?

    • The contact tower produces no emissions as it is a closed system. The reboiler heats the glycol and boils off the water it has removed from the natural gas stream. The emissions from the burner in the reboiler are the same type of emissions cause by burning gas in a furnace. In addition, there will be water vapor emitted.

  71. Where do you connect to Canada?

    • We connect at the Chippewa channel, upstream of Niagara Falls and west of Grand Island, N.Y.

  72. Is there noise with the dehydrator?

    • The only thing that makes noise is the burner, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize that noise.

  73. Is there a barrier around the dehydrator? Will it affect the storm water in my backyard?

    • The contact tower is a pressure vessel and, as such, is designed to specific codes. The reboiler will have a containment system around it, greater than the capacity of glycol in the system. In addition the site will likely have storm water controls, such as settling and/or retention basins as required by the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC), so that we don't change the storm water runoff from its current path.

  74. Will there be any run off besides rain water?

    • It is a closed system so there will be no additional runoff.

  75. Is the glycol you use recyclable?

    • Yes, the glycol is recyclable.

  76. Will you release the emissions test results?

    • Yes, the emissions information will all be available publicly as part of our permit application to the DEC. It will also be part of our FERC filling.

  77. Will there be staffing for the compressor station?

    • There will likely be one technician who reports to and checks on the station daily.

  78. Have you considered putting the compressor station in the same location as the dehydration station?

    • During the FERC pre-filing process, National Fuel evaluated the extension of its Line X-North pipeline west of its Nash Road Station. The pipeline would generally follow a narrow (approximately 70-foot wide) National Grid double tower electric transmission corridor. Within that existing corridor are also 2 brine pipelines. Standard pipeline construction for 24-inch pipe would require a 75-foot wide cleared corridor with a minimum of 50 feet, requiring the pipeline to be constructed adjacent to the existing utility corridor. The route would entail approximately 3.2 miles of 24-inch pipeline ending near the currently proposed dehydration facility on Liberty Drive in Wheatfield, N.Y. Construction of the pipeline would be extremely difficult at the required road crossings due to residential and commercial development (likely requiring workspace and access for horizontal directional drills behind the houses at each cross road) and also along the route due to extensive forested and other wetlands along the corridor. As a result, this alternative was dropped from consideration.