TransCanada, Nicor See Future for Viking Voyageur
TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. and Nicor Inc. said they plan to dust
off their old Viking Voyageur proposal and re-submit it as a
substantially amended pipeline project, one that would be about
one-seventh the length of the originally proposed project and would
flow northward from the Chicago market hub to serve growing gas
markets in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
In a July 31st filing at FERC, the joint partners in Voyageur
indicated that they were developing plans for a 140-150 mile, 1.05
Bcf/d pipeline that would begin at the Joliet/Chicago Hub area,
where it would interconnect with Northern Border Pipeline and
Alliance Pipeline, and would extend northward, ending just
southwest of Milwaukee, WI. They plan to submit a formal
application to the Commission in either September or October, said
Ed Werneke, vice president of supply ventures with Nicor, parent of
The radically altered Voyageur surfaced a little over a month
after the announcement of a virtually identical proposal, the
Illinois Wisconsin Express. Amending the previously filed
certificate presumably would give the Voyageur proposal a head
start on the Express which has yet to file at FERC.
Werneke said Voyageur's plan "is to revise the application that
we have at FERC currently - which would be that old Viking Voyageur
concept." The original application called for construction of a
773-mile, 1.4 Bcf/d pipeline that would interconnect with
TransCanada at the Manitoba border and bring gas down through
Minnesota, Wisconsin and into the market hub in Chicago.
The project sponsors asked FERC last April to suspend
consideration of the project, which was in head-to-head competition
with the proposed Alliance Pipeline, because they were unable to
obtain enough shipper commitments to justify building the entire
continued from page 1
noted. The Commission gave the sponsors until late July "to see
if we could serve them [northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin]
in some other way." The sponsors in the end decided to pursue the
southern portion of the project (from southern Wisconsin to
Joliet), but opted to forego the northern section (from the
Manitoba-Minnesota border to southern Wisconsin), at least for now.
They hope to build the southern section for about $260-$270
But it has not ruled out building the northern section
altogether. "Sometime in the future we would anticipate that that
might be something we would do, but for the time being we don't
believe that there is adequate support for that to be completed all
the way up to the Canadian border," Werneke said.
Looking to the future, "we have been very active in designing a
different type of pipeline project, but we still want to serve the
same markets" that were planned in the original project - northern
Illinois and southern Wisconsin, Werneke said. "Those are very
strong markets. They're experiencing a lot of growth. They're
experiencing a lot of interest in electric power generation. And,
of course, in Wisconsin currently the utilities there are pretty
much captive to one pipeline," ANR Pipeline. He believes Viking
Voyageur, if approved and built, would provide targeted customers
with an alternative to ANR.
"We've been working very closely with the LDCs in both states.
We've had strong support at a conceptual level right now from
them," he noted. Some of the LDCs include Nicor's own utility
subsidiary Nicor Gas in Illinois, and Wisconsin Gas, Wisconsin
Electric Power and Madison Gas and Electric. The sponsors told FERC
that they are "actively negotiating" with these LDCs, and intend to
hold an open season during the middle of August. Werneke declined
to say whether any shippers have committed to the project yet. "I'm
really not at liberty to talk about the level of commitments we
have right now."
The competing Illinois Wisconsin Express Project is sponsored by
a coalition of El Paso Energy, Enron, Peoples Energy and Northern
Border Pipeline. They have plans to build a $220-$280 million
pipeline that also would extend from Joliet, IL, north to just
north of Milwaukee. The project would have an initial design
capacity of 650 MMcf/d. Moreover, ANR and Viking Gas Transmission
have announced plans to expand their existing transportation
systems to capture the incremental growth in the region.
"I really don't view it [the Express Project] as serious
competition personally. I think that our project is much better
defined," Werneke said. Given that Viking Voyageur already has a
proposal on file at the Commission, "we believe that positions us
to have a competitive edge."
He thinks the new Viking Voyageur project will fare well at
FERC. "I think FERC has demonstrated an interest in seeing
competition among the interstate pipelines. And this would
certainly go a long way to providing competition in Wisconsin,
which they don't have much of right now." He said the sponsors plan
to propose an in-service target date of November 2000 for the