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Production Growth Driving CIG Raton Expansion

Production growth in the Raton Basin has prompted El Paso Corp.'s Colorado Interstate Gas Co. (CIG) to expand its transmission system serving the basin. CIG's Raton Expansion would add 130 MMcf/d of incremental firm capacity from the Las Animas County, CO, area northward along the Front Range of Colorado to the Cheyenne Hub.

The expansion, expected to cost approximately $146 million, is supported by long-term firm transportation commitments by three shippers for nearly all of its capacity, El Paso said. Spokesman Richard Wheatley said the contracts resulted from an open season held in the first quarter. He would not disclose the shippers but said contracts were for five to 10 years.

"CIG has worked closely with Raton Basin producers to provide the necessary pipeline infrastructure to support the continued growth in production," said El Paso Western Pipelines President Jim Cleary. "This expansion provides producers with access to diverse markets both east and west via the Cheyenne Hub, which would potentially include access to growing demand centers in Nevada, Oregon and Northern California through El Paso's Ruby Pipeline."

In May the Ruby project, which would move Rockies gas to the West Coast, lost one of its partners, but El Paso vowed to move ahead (see NGI, June 30).

CIG's Raton Expansion would consist of 118 miles of 16-inch diameter pipeline. El Paso said it has entered into a fixed-price contract for the purchase of steel pipe for the expansion. The expansion would increase CIG's capacity from the Raton Basin to more than 540 MMcf/d. The project is expected to be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by early 2009, with construction beginning in late 2009. The in-service target is the second quarter of 2010.

In April Pioneer Natural Resources Co. said it expected to get 2 Tcf out of a shale play in the Raton Basin (see NGI, April 14). Pioneer lays claim to being the largest operator in the Raton Basin "where its long-lived coalbed methane production provides a strong foundation for growth generated by new drilling."

CIG completed a Raton Basin expansion almost three years ago (see NGI, Dec. 5, 2005).

And with natural gas production increasing from the Uinta Basin and Wamsutter areas, El Paso Pipeline Partners LP subsidiary Wyoming Interstate Co. Ltd. said recently it will expand its system upstream of the Opal Hub (see NGI, July 7).

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