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FGT Raps Competing Buccaneer Pipe Project

FGT Raps Competing Buccaneer Pipe Project

The proposed Buccaneer Pipeline, which is seeking approval as an optional-certificate project, should be held to the same high standards as are other major pipeline projects under FERC's new policy statement, says Florida Gas Transmission (FGT).

FERC exempted optional-certificate (OC) pipelines, such as Buccaneer, from the requirements of the policy statement on pipeline construction because sponsors bear the economic risks for their projects. But FGT doesn't believe Buccaneer, a potential competitor in a market long dominated by FGT, should be so easily excused.

"Projects submitted for approval under the Commission's OC procedures raise the same public policy concerns that the Commission has identified for projects under traditional Section 7c procedures. These concerns include 'the possibility of overbuilding, the avoidance of unnecessary disruption of the environment, and the unneeded exercise of eminent domain,'" FGT said in a filing at FERC [CP00-16].

"The compelling reasons supporting the standards set forth in the statement of policy do not disappear simply because an applicant uses different application procedures or accepts economic risk. The public interest concerns arise regardless of the type of application submitted," FGT told the Commission.

"Unnecessary overbuilding is unnecessary overbuilding, regardless of the type of procedures followed," the pipeline said.

FGT further criticized Buccaneer for failing to back up its project with firm service agreements, and for not identifying a "specific market need" for the proposed pipeline.

The proposed 533-mile, 36-inch Buccaneer line would begin in Mobile County, AL, and would cross the Gulf of Mexico, coming ashore on the west coast of Florida just north of Tampa. There it plans to branch out eastward to serve the expanding gas-fired generation market in the Sunshine State.

Mobil Exploration & Producing U.S. Inc. and Mobil Oil Exploration and Producing Southeast (MOEPSI) said that although they favored any project that would provide additional access to Florida markets for their Mobile Bay gas production, they were concerned Buccaneer could foreclose Mobil's ability to use a corridor to construct a pipeline to transport sour gas production to its Mary Ann sweetening facility. Buccaneer's proposed route would also cross a pipeline corridor known as Portersville Bay, which MOEPSI said it would need for its pipeline. Mobil owns the land on which the corridors are located.

"Representatives of MOEPSI and Buccaneer have met in recent weeks to discuss ways in which to mitigate the potentially serious consequences of Buccaneer's use of MOEPSI's already-busy corridor" and several issues still must be resolved," the Mobil companies told FERC.

Susan Parker

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