Coastal Plans to Test Waters Early for Gulfstream
With the Independence Pipeline project continuing its struggle
through the landowner gauntlet in the Midwest and through the
longer-than-average regulatory review at FERC, Coastal Corp. is
attempting a different approach for its proposed Gulfstream Natural
Gas System in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. The company plans to
get the word out early and claims its wants as much public input as
possible prior to filing an application with FERC this fall. It has
drawn a preliminary pipeline route on a map and scheduled several
open houses to discuss the project with landowners, local
officials, regulators and anyone else who's interested.
"I don't think this has ever been done by anyone in the pipeline
industry before," said spokesman Joe Martucci. No other pipeline
sponsor has presented a pipeline route for public comment so early
in the process, he said.
"This approach is in keeping with the spirit of FERC's Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, issued last fall, which is intended to improve
communication, expand public participation and identify any
concerns very early in the process," said ANR Pipeline President
Jeffrey A. Connelly. It's also a good idea given the difficulties
encountered with its Independence project, on which FERC refused to
make a preliminary ruling until all the environmental matters are
picked through with a fine toothed comb.
And Florida is probably a good place in which to do it. The
state has a history of defeating offshore and onshore production
and pipeline projects in an effort to protect its pristine beaches
and large tourist revenues. The state has only one other interstate
pipeline, Florida Gas Transmission, and so far has not been eager
to receive the benefits of pipeline competition. But that may be
changing because of the tremendous need for additional power
Gulfstream isn't the only project taking advantage of the
situation. The competing Buccaneer Pipeline, sponsored by
Williams-Transco, also would deliver production from the central
Gulf to the Florida Peninsula. Coastal said there is a projected
need of at least 9,600 MW of additional electric generating
capacity by 2007. That amount of generation, if gas-fired, would
require well over 1 Bcf/d of new gas supply.
Coastal projects a two-year regulatory review process for its
700-mile project, which is expected to be in service in June 2002.
Since announcing the project in February, the company already has
identified a three-mile-wide corridor from landfall near Piney
Point in Manatee County across the Florida Peninsula through
Hardee, Polk, Highlands and Okeechobee counties, to an ending near
Fort Pierce in St. Lucie County. Coastal said the study corridor
reflects efforts to avoid sensitive environmental features and
public lands, and to minimize effects on developed areas.
Last month, Coastal said it had received expressions of interest
from nine potential non-affiliated customers. A subsequent open
season attracted interest from additional potential customers,
Martucci said, without providing any names or the level of
interest. He did say, however, that no one has signed an agreement
for the proposed capacity.
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