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Houston Vector Project Passes Draft EIS Test at FERC

Houston Vector Project Passes Draft EIS Test at FERC

The proposed Vector Pipeline L.P. project cleared the initial environmental hurdle at FERC last week, moving a step closer to becoming a key transportation link between the Chicago hub and the Dawn hub in Ontario, and major markets in the eastern United States.

Provided certain mitigation measures are adopted, the 1 Bcf/d Chicago-to-Canada pipeline would have "limited adverse environmental impact," according to Commission staff's draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Sponsors, IPL Energy of Calgary and Detroit-based MCN Energy Group, claimed FERC's quick action put them in the lead among projects designed to pick up western Canadian gas brought into the Midwest by Northern Border and the planned Alliance Pipeline. Plans for the pipeline were filed in December 1997.

To mitigate the environmental impact Vector has leased 59 miles of 36-inch pipe from MCN subsidiary Michigan Consolidated Gas. In addition for much of its route the pipeline will be positioned within or along existing permanent easements held by IPL's Lakehead Pipe Line Partners L.P. It also follows other existing transmission and utility rights-of-way for most of the remaining pipeline segments. The project still needs a final impact statement and certificate approval in the U.S. as well as authorization from the National Energy Board for the Canadian portion. It has targeted late 1999 for an in-service date.

Staff said it gave it gave Vector a passing mark in the initial environmental review because 95% of the proposed route would be adjacent to or within existing pipeline and power line rights of ways, and many of the proposed facilities would be located in sparsely populated, rural areas.

The proposed pipeline would extend from Joliet, IL, to a connection with Vector Canada at the international border near St. Clair, MI. The 330-mile system in the United States would include three segments: 267 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline from Joliet to Oakland County, MI; the 59 mile Michigan Consolidated segment from Oakland County to St. Clair County, MI; and 3.7 miles of 42-inch pipeline terminating at the U.S.-Canadian border. Vector Canada plans to build an additional 15-mile line from the border connecting to the Dawn hub near Chatham, ON.

Vector says the proposed pipeline would provide U.S. shippers with increased access to the Dawn hub and markets in Canada and the eastern U.S. In addition, it will deliver significant volumes of gas to markets in Michigan.

The FERC staff evaluated three system alternatives to the Vector project - the ANR/Great Lakes System Alternative, the ANR/MichCon System Alternative and the ANR/Consumers Energy System Alternative - but rejected them all because of their inability to handle the additional 1 Bcf/d of capacity that Vector would provide. They also didn't stand up to an environmental comparison to the Vector project.

Susan Parker

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