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Shippers Protest REX's Proposal to Delay Capacity Release Standards

A recent request to FERC by Rockies Express Pipeline LLC (REX) for an extension of time to implement portions of its Capacity Release Standards should not be permitted due to "the broad effect such a delayed implementation would have on the natural gas industry," according to a quintet of shippers.

"To the extent Rockies Express were permitted to delay implementation of the scheduling standards, shippers on multiple pipelines in multiple markets would be adversely affected because Rockies Express would not be operating under the same timelines as other interconnected pipelines, which would affect the ability of other pipelines to schedule nominated volumes during the industry-standard timelines," according to a joint Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filing by Anadarko Energy Services Co., BP Energy Co., Chevron USA, ConocoPhillips and Shell Energy North America. "The whole point behind developing industry-wide standards is to ensure that all members of the industry are operating under the same set of rules and timelines."

FERC should require REX to implement all nomination and scheduling timelines, including the Capacity Release Standards, by April 1, the originally scheduled effective date. REX has asked that the date be pushed back until Aug. 31. At the very least, the shippers said, FERC should require REX to explain its request in more detail, since "it is unclear as to what Rockies Express is seeking to delay" until this summer.

The root of the dispute is FERC's Order No. 587-W, which incorporated business practice standards adopted by the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) and modifications to the standards to support efforts to harmonize gas-electric scheduling coordination that the Commission incorporated by reference in an April 2015 rule (see Daily GPIApril 16, 2015). REX was required by Order No. 587-W to file Proposed Tariff Sections by Feb. 1. In a 217-page filing dated Feb. 9, REX said that based on its "unique circumstances and certain unforeseen challenges encountered while implementing the business practice and tariff changes identified in Order No. 587-W, Rockies Express requests a limited extension of time to implement certain elements of the standards."

Chief among those "unique challenges," REX said, was that Tallgrass Energy Partners, which owns and operates interstate natural gas pipelines REX, Tallgrass Interstate Gas Transmission and Trailblazer Pipeline Co., is implementing a new pipeline management system, CONNECT, "in a standalone environment that is static and based on the previously applicable NAESB standards. As such, Tallgrass is unable to avail itself of the current version of the vendor's software that includes changes to satisfy" the latest NAESB standards.

REX missed the Feb. 1 filing deadline for its revised tariff section, and has requested a waiver, due to "an administrative oversight" by Tallgrass, according to the REX filing. "Despite this oversight, Tallgrass has been engaged in a concentrated 'all hands' effort to make the software changes necessary to bring Rockies Express's currently effective Tariff into compliance with the scheduling changes incorporated by Order No. 587-W to promote gas-electric coordination," REX said. 

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