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FGT Phase VIII Expansion Gets Environmental Nod

FERC Friday issued a favorable draft environmental review of Florida Gas Transmission's (FGT) proposal to construct 483 miles of pipeline facilities in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to meet expanding gas-fired power generation demand in the Sunshine State.

"The proposed project, with the appropriate mitigation measures as recommended, would have limited adverse environmental impact," staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in the draft environmental impact statement on FGT's Phase VIII Expansion [CP09-17].

The Phase VIII project, which is estimated to cost $2.45 billion, calls for the construction of approximately 365.8 miles of pipeline looping of FGT's existing mainline system; 117.2 miles of greenfield pipeline through north and south-central Florida; acquisition of a 22.7-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline in Martin County, FL, from Florida Power & Light (FPL); and installation of about 213,000 hp of mainline compression at existing stations and one new compressor station in Highlands County (see NGI, Nov. 24, 2008).

FGT, a pipeline subsidiary of Panhandle Energy, also seeks authorization to operate certain existing segments of its system at a greater maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) -- up to 80% of the specified minimum yield strength (SMYS) in Class 1 locations (low population density), 67% of SMYS in Class 2 locations (somewhat higher population density) and 56% SMYS in Class 3 locations (even higher population density). Operating at higher MAOP would eliminate the need to build about 80 miles of additional pipeline needed for the project, FGT said in its application.

The pipeline has asked the Commission to approve the project on or before Oct. 1. It wants to put the entire expansion in operation by spring 2011.

Six shippers -- with FPL as the anchor shipper -- have signed precedent agreements for 731,000 MMBtu/d of the 820,000 MMBtu/d of capacity to be created by the expansion, FGT said at the end of 2008. The other shippers are Progress Energy Florida, Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc., Tampa Electric Co., Orlando Utilities Commission and the City of Tallahassee, FL.

The expansion is slated to increase the capacity of FGT's mainline facilities from the Mobile Bay, AL, area to southern Florida to provide additional firm transportation service throughout Florida to meet the state's rising energy demand. The demand for natural gas in Florida increased to 2.4 Bcf/d in 2007 from 1.5 Bcf/d in 2000, FGT said in its application. Power generation accounted for the vast majority of the increase -- 2.1 Bcf/d -- in 2007.

The 5,000-mile FGT system is one of two pipelines serving Florida -- with the other being Gulfstream Natural Gas System. It currently delivers about 2.3 Bcf/d of gas from the Gulf of Mexico to the state.

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