New Pipeline Sets Sights On The Northwest
Westcoast Energy, Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Puget Sound
Energy (PSE) announced last week that they have teamed together to
explore the feasibility of building a new pipeline to serve
consumers in northwestern Washington. Westcoast is leading the
project evaluation and development for the three companies and
would be the lead developer as the project moves forward.
The pipeline, called the Orca Natural Gas Pipeline (ONGP), is
still in the preliminary design stages and will be developed in
broad consultation with local communities and government officials,
Westcoast said. It is currently targeted to be in service by late
2004. The pipeline is anticipated to be 140 miles long, including
potential laterals to Whidbey Island, and the Olympic, Quimper and
Kitsap Peninsulas, areas not currently served by natural gas. The
capacity of the new line will be determined by projected market
demand for natural gas in the region.
Lizette Parsons, a Westcoast spokeswoman, said that it is even
too early for capacity estimates. "We've announced the project in
such a preliminary stage where we honestly don't know how much gas
will flow through it. We made the announcement now to create a
forum of open consultation, which we welcome."
Westcoast said the new project is in response to the growing
demand for gas in Northwest WA, where the population has grown 7.5%
in the past five years. The proposed ONGP would transport natural
gas from Sumas, WA, at the Canada-U.S. border, to new and existing
markets in Northwest Washington. It would also add a new link to
the North American interconnected natural gas pipeline grid.
"The development of the this project is consistent with
Westcoast's objective of increasing our activities in the Pacific
Northwest, where we already have a significant market and asset
presence," said Michael Phelps, CEO of Westcoast.
"The Orca Natural Gas Pipeline project can add versatility and
diversity to PSE's natural gas supply portfolio, while reducing
costs to our customers. It can also allow PSE to better serve its
electric customers by delivering fuel to natural gas-fired
generation projects more cost-effectively," said Bill Gaines, vice
president, energy supply of Puget Sound Energy.
The companies plan to evaluate two general corridors for the
natural gas pipeline. One alignment would roughly follow the
Interstate 5 corridor south to Everett and include an extension
across Puget Sound to Port Townsend. The other would be a mostly
offshore underwater route south from Whatcom County to Port
Townsend. Both scenarios could also provide service to Whidbey
The three companies currently operate a combined 51,000 miles of
pipelines. Westcoast operates a 51-mile offshore pipeline crossing
the Georgia Strait from just north of Vancouver, BC to Vancouver
Island, and another in the Gulf of Mexico.
Westcoast has been very active in terms of participating in
pipeline projects. Besides this new Orca project, the
Vacouver-based company also has a substantial stake in the proposed
Vector and Alliance pipelines.