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Midwest Storms Delay REX-West, Big Sandy

A steady downpour across the Midwest this month has led to delays in starting up a portion of the Rockies Express (REX) pipeline and the Big Sandy Pipeline project.

REX operator Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) rerevised its projected in-service date to mid-April for REX-West from the ANR interconnect in Brown County, KS, to the Panhandle Eastern interconnect in Audrain County, MO. Completion of the 210-mile REX-West section has been delayed twice this month.

"Heavy and consistent rains have hampered the progress of completion of final construction activities on the REX-West system to the PEPL interconnect...," KMP stated. "All welding has been completed with the exception of the final tie-ins. The final 23 miles requiring hydrotesting is now under test. Drying the pipeline, final tie-ins and caliper pig runs will have to occur prior to purging and packing the pipeline with gas."

Subject to improvement in weather conditions, final test results and final regulatory approvals by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), REX said it expects to place the final portion of the REX-West project into service by mid-April.

FERC last week approved an extension to July 31 for Equitrans LP to complete its 70-mile, 20-inch diameter Big Sandy Pipeline project. The Commission in October approved Equitrans' request for a four-month extension in the Big Sandy project, which was originally scheduled to be in operation by Nov. 15, 2007 (see NGI, Oct. 8, 2007). The project would provide firm transportation service from the Kentucky Hydrocarbon Compressor Station in Langley, KY, to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s Broad Run Lateral in Carter County, KY.

"Although the project has progressed rapidly, Equitrans states that eastern Kentucky has experienced significant rainfall over the last several weeks, which has hampered construction activity and that the facilities will not be completed and ready for service by March 31, 2008," said FERC's Berne L. Mosley, director of the Division of Pipeline Certificates in the Office of Energy Projects. "As a result, Equitrans filed a motion requesting a modest extension of time to complete the project." Equitrans, he said, noted that the delay should have no material impact on any customers.

Heavy rainfall and flooded rivers this month led to the evacuation of hundreds of residents and businesses from parts of Texas north to Ohio. At least 16 people were reportedly killed after being swept away in storms or from weather-related traffic accidents. The Missouri Department of Transportation closed dozens of roads because of the flooding, and parts of the state received up to 10 inches of rain. Farther north, up to a foot of heavy snow fell in Wisconsin and Illinois, leading to flight delays.

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