Dominion Cove Point LNG LP and Dominion Transmission Inc. (DTI) have asked FERC not to act on a request by Washington Gas Light (WGL) to reject the proposed expansion of Cove Point's liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and associated pipeline project until it can be shown that imported LNG is fully interchangeable with traditional gas and will not negatively impact the utility's system.
By failing to issue an order immediately saying it will not act, FERC "will deny Dominion its rightful due process and will add uncertainty to an already anxious market," the two Dominion affiliates said in a Nov. 15 filing at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
"Nearly seven months after the filing of the applications, nearly six months after WGL's initial comments [ in the case]..., WGL has attempted to interject its new gas quality concerns into these proceedings," the Dominion companies noted. "And WGL's proposed solution is to modify Cove Point's existing tariff quality specifications, in some yet to be determined way at an unspecified future date."
Cove Point "tests the regasified LNG as it leaves [its] import terminal every eight minutes to ensure consistency with the detailed tariff specifications agreed upon by the parties [including WGL] to address WGL's gas quality concerns and injects nitrogen as necessary to blend with high Btu content gas for that purpose," Dominion Cove Point told FERC. The tariff specs, which FERC approved, were based on the results of a October 2002 study by TIAX LLC to evaluate gas interchangeability, which both Dominion and WGL sponsored, it said.
The Dominion affiliates called on FERC to reject the protest of WGL, which serves metropolitan Washington, DC, and approve the applications of Cove Point and DTI to expand their facilities to bring needed incremental gas supply to market. "WGL has not even begun to satisfy the evidentiary burdens that would be necessary to support the relief it seeks." If WGL should wish to pursue its protest, the Dominion affiliates believe the appropriate procedural course would be for the utility to file a Section 5 complaint under the Natural Gas Act.
WGL filed the protest and request for evidentiary hearing earlier this month. It followed claims by WGL this summer that vaporized LNG from Dominion's Cove Point terminal was to blame for widespread leaks on its distribution system in Prince Georges County, MD. WGL commissioned a study that determined that LNG was the key factor contributing to deterioration of rubber seals in mechanical couplings that joint sections of distribution mains to service lines on the WGL gas distribution system (see NGI, July 11). Dominion disputed the findings.
Prince George's is the most populous county served directly off the Cove Point Pipeline, carrying regasified LNG from the Cove Point terminal in eastern Maryland. The Cove Point line continues on to connect with three major interstate pipelines where the regasified LNG is commingled with domestic gas before going into distribution lines for the rest of the metropolitan Washington area.
WGL contends that the proposed Cove Point terminal expansion, which would increase sendout capacity to 1.8 Bcf/d and storage capacity to 14.5 Bcf, would potentially cause even more problems on its system. The expansion project also entails the construction of 161 miles of pipeline in Maryland and Pennsylvania [CP05-130, CP05-131]. FERC issued a favorable environmental review of the LNG expansion and associated pipe projects in late October (see NGI, Oct. 31).
In its protest, WGL asked the Commission to "not grant the requested certificates until such time as necessary tariff provisions [pertaining to gas interchangeability] are implemented or facilities [are] constructed for prevention and/or remediation of adverse consequences to the safety of Washington Gas which could occur from the increased flow of revaporized gas."
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