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Port Dolphin Pipeline Approved

Port Dolphin Energy LLC last Thursday was authorized by FERC to construct and operate a 3.93-mile onshore pipeline that would carry regasified liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its proposed deepwater LNG port 28 miles offshore Tampa Bay, FL.

The pipeline would extend from the point where Port Dolphin's offshore pipeline reaches the high-water mark at the pier bulk head in Manatee County, FL, to Port Dolphin's proposed interconnection station in Manatee County, where gas would be delivered to Gulfstream Natural Gas System LLC's interstate system and TECO Energy Inc.'s intrastate system, which is operated by subsidiary People's Gas System.

"The onshore pipeline facilities will be used for the sole purpose of transporting pipeline-quality natural gas from the Port Dolphin project for delivery to Gulfstream and TECO/Peoples," the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) noted.

Because of this, Port Dolphin sought and was granted exemption from pipeline open-access rules; however, the Commission stipulated that the company apply for an open-access blanket certificate within 30 days of receiving a bona fide request for firm service on the pipeline provided that capacity is available.

Intervenors in the case raised concerns about the quality of gas that would be transported into the pipeline grid. However, the Commission found that Port Dolphin's response to these concerns was adequate.

Gulfstream protested the proposed onshore connection of its system with the Port Dolphin pipeline (see NGI, Feb. 25, 2008), stating that an offshore connection "would obviate the need for an onshore pipeline," according to FERC. Port Dolphin opposed an offshore connection with Gulfstream because that would prevent it from connecting with pipelines other than Gulfstream and serving other markets. FERC decided an onshore connection point would be best.

"The onshore facilities will give Port Dolphin the ability to connect with Gulfstream, TECO/Peoples and possibly Florida Gas in the future," the Commission noted. "TECO/Peoples clarified in its May 2, 2008 filing that its new Bayside pipeline will be able to accommodate up to 480 MMcf/d of deliveries from Port Dolphin. Florida Gas' Phase VIII expansion contemplates a 24-inch [diameter] lateral in Manatee County, which Port Dolphin believes is a potential interconnect. An offshore interconnection with Gulfstream would eliminate any possibility of interconnections between Port Dolphin and other pipeline systems and therefore would inhibit potential access to LNG by other markets."

Port Dolphin is a subsidiary of Norway's Hoegh LNG (see NGI, April 9, 2007). In October a record of decision was signed, paving the way for a deepwater port license to be issued by the U.S. Maritime Administration (see NGI, Nov. 2). An environmental impact statement has been completed for the project, which was approved in September by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (see NGI, Sept. 21).

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