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The chief executives of three major pipeline operators with infrastructure spread across the US presented a united front Wednesday in criticizing the intensity and tactics they said are being used by project opponents at a time when the Trump administration is trying to ease the approval process for new pipelines.

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The comments, during the annual CERAWeek by IHS Markit energy conference in Houston, reflect the challenges the midstream sector still faces boosting oil and gas takeaway capacity from key supply basins despite a more friendly reception from officials in Washington over the last year.

From drilling holes in pipes to turning off valves to coordinating protests more widely, the intensity of efforts by landowners, conservation groups and fossil fuel opponents has only seemed to increase, delaying projects, raising construction costs and creating headaches the executives said they did not see coming.

"We're combating something that is relatively new, but it is all of our problems," Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren said, as he sat next to the chiefs of Kinder Morgan and TransCanada during a panel discussion on North American infrastructure.



ETP is the operator of the Rover gas pipeline and the Dakota Access crude pipeline.

TransCanada's CEO, Russ Girling, described some tactics of pipeline opponents as "civil insurrection," and he said he is thankful courts have been "actually convicting folks." TransCanada operates the Columbia gas pipeline system in the Eastern US.

Kinder Morgan, which moves more than a third of the gas consumed in the US, is concerned with laws it believes are being broken by project opponents, CEO Steve Kean said.

"Everybody has a right to speak and should," Kean said. "But we do have processes."

Kean added, "The tactics have changed and they've gone to an extreme level."

-- Harry Weber, Harry.Weber@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Lisa Miller, newsdesk@spglobal.com