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Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP's Gulf South Pipeline Co. LP completed remediation of anomalies on its East Texas and Southeast pipeline projects and has received authorization to operate the pipelines at standard operating pressures, the company said. "We are performing additional tests and will continue to work cooperatively with PHMSA [Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration] in order to obtain the authority to operate these projects at higher operating pressures," said Boardwalk CEO Rolf Gafvert. Late in June Boardwalk said its 356-mile Gulf Crossing Pipeline had completed remediation of pipe anomalies and had been given the green light by the Department of Transportation to operate the pipeline at normal operating pressures of up to 72% of the specified minimum yield strength (see NGI, July 6). The East Texas Pipeline consists of approximately 242 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline and originates near DeSoto Parish in northwestern Louisiana and proceeds to Harrisville, MS. The Southeast Expansion project consists of approximately 111 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline and originates near Harrisville and extends to an interconnect with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. in Choctaw Country, AL (Transco Station 85).

Spectra Energy Corp. is holding a binding open season ending on Aug. 21 for proposed service on its Transportation South (T-South) Zone 4 transmission facilities in southern British Columbia. The service would provide capacity from Spectra's Compressor Station 2 to the Kingsgate, BC, export point at the interconnection of the facilities of Foothills Pipe Lines (South BC) and Gas Transmission Northwest. Two service options will be offered. Basic service will provide rights to transport gas on a firm basis from the Compressor Station 2 receipt point to the Kingsgate delivery point, while premium service will offer rights to transport gas on a flexible firm basis from the Compressor Station 2 receipt point to the Kingsgate delivery point and/or the Huntingdon delivery point. The services are expected to be available by Nov. 1 and are dependent on the company entering into an agreement with Terasen Gas Inc. for up to 87 MMcf/d of firm capacity on Terasen's Southern Crossing pipeline, as well as Terasen Gas contracting for service on the Foothills Pipe Lines (South BC) system from Yahk, BC, to the Kingsgate export point. Information is available at www.wei-pipeline.com or by contacting Spectra's Greg Staple at (604) 691-5721 or at gstaple@spectraenergy.com.

An exploration well in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) at the Vito prospect in Mississippi Canyon Block 984 has encountered more than 250 net feet of oil pay in subsalt Miocene sands, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the well operator, reported. Anadarko has a 20% stake in the prospect; Shell Offshore Inc. holds a 55% working interest and is to become operator after the rig is released. StatoilHydro USA E&P Inc. holds the remaining 25% stake. The partners plan to evaluate the data from the Vito well and time an appraisal well, said Anadarko's Bob Daniels, senior vice president, Worldwide Exploration. The Vito well was drilled to a total depth of 32,000 feet in 4,038 feet of water using the Noble Amos Runner deepwater drilling rig. Once operations are complete at Vito, Anadarko plans to move the rig to continue drilling operations at its operated Caesar/Tonga development in the Green Canyon area.

North American Energy Resources (NAER) said it has entered into a letter of intent to acquire a 20% interest in the Washington Gathering System, which serves all of the natural gas production in NAER's northern Oklahoma territory. The transaction is anticipated to close by Aug. 31. The acquisition is an important piece in NAER's efforts to become a fully integrated gas and oil producer in the area, the company said. The announcement came after NAER said it had agreed to acquire 480 acres, including 14 existing oil producing wells, near its Apwash pipeline in Washington County, OK.

El Paso Pipeline Partners LP now holds a 58% stake in Colorado Interstate Gas Co. (CIG) after paying El Paso Corp. $215 million for an additional 18% interest. The pipeline partnership funded the transaction after issuing 12.65 million units, which raised about $217 million. With the additional stake in CIG, the partnership plans to recommend to its board a 6% increase from its 2Q2009 quarterly cash distribution to 35 cents/unit, or $1.40/unit on an annualized basis, beginning with the distribution to be declared and paid in 4Q2009. El Paso Corp. owns a 65% limited partner interest and a 2% general partner interest in the partnership, which it formed to own and operate natural gas transportation pipelines and storage assets. In addition to its stake in CIG, El Paso Pipeline Partners owns Wyoming Interstate Co., an interstate pipeline system serving the Rocky Mountain region, and it owns a 25% interest in Southern Natural Gas Co., which operates in the southeastern region of the United States.

Privately held Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has filed a revised integrated resource plan (IRP) with Washington state regulators that calls for up to a 30% increase in its energy efficiency goals, along with stepped-up development of renewable resources and natural gas-fired generation. The 2009 IRP, filed with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, covers a 20-year horizon in assessing the utility's resource needs.A combination of increased efficiency and renewable programs can satisfy about 40% of the projected added electricity supplies the combination utility needs to acquire during the next two decades, according to the IRP. In addition, the plan calls for almost all of PSE's other new generation to come from natural gas-fired power. A "significant" increase in natural gas demand is outlined in the resource plan, with customers' peak winter use expected to jump by more than 38% during the next 20 years and peak gas use for winter power generation predicted to rise by 108%. The plan also calls for the utility to obtain more gas transmission pipeline capacity and supplies into the Northwest.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a proceeding to allocate settlement monies from past lawsuits stemming from the 1999-2002 energy crisis, but it rejected a request to suspend a long-standing market-indexed capital cost adjustment mechanism. Sempra Energy's two gas utilities were in the center of both moves. The state's other major gas distributors -- Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) and Las Vegas-based Southwest Gas Corp. -- are involved in the court settlement funding allocation case. The new proceeding deals with allocating $164 million in payments to the core customers of PG&E, Southwest Gas, and Sempra utilities Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E), which were part of a multi-case settlement reached three years ago. In the other action, the CPUC rejected a request from SoCalGas to drop the use of a "market indexed capital adjustment mechanism" that has been used since 1997 as part of the establishment of the utility's performance-based ratemaking plan.

The expansion of its Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the eastern shore of Maryland helped Dominion post 2Q2009 earnings of $454 million (76 cents/share), up 52% compared with $298 million (51 cents) in 2Q2008, the Richmond, VA-based company said. The earnings increase was primarily due to higher merchant generation margins, lower outage costs, a lower effective income tax rate and higher contributions from gas transmission operations due to completion of the Cove Point expansion, Dominion said. Lower gas and oil production in the company's exploration and production (E&P) operations, lower energy supply margins and lower sales of emission allowances partially offset the positive results. Merchant generation margin was $66 million in 2Q2009, adding 11 cents to Dominion's earnings per share (EPS), while outage costs of $48 million added another 8 cents to EPS. The strong quarterly results prompted Dominion to affirm its 2009 operating earnings guidance of $3.20-3.30/share, but uncertainty in the timing and strength of an economic recovery and its impact on commodity prices led it to revise its 2010 guidance down to $3.20-3.40 from the previously announced $3.33-3.50. In July the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Dominion Cove Point LNG LP's proposal to upgrade and expand its offshore pier at the Cove Point facility (see NGI, July 20).

Fort Worth, TX-based Welltec Inc. has opened an operating facility in the Marcellus Shale region to focus on the Appalachian Basin's burgeoning play. Welltec provides wire-line deployed conveyance technologies for horizontal and deviated wells. "We have many pre-existing relationships with clients already drilling in the Marcellus. Due to our recent increase in activity, we feel now is the time to establish ourselves in the region," said Gregg Lindstrom, vice president of North and Central America for Welltec Inc. Welltec is currently operating in the Marcellus Shale region and will add additional assets along with staff by September.

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