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Williams Phases In MarketLink

Williams Phases In MarketLink

Capping a two-year battle for its controversial MarketLink project, designed to expand its system to deliver new supplies to the Northeast, Williams' Transco pipeline has scaled back its ambitious schedule, filing to phase in construction through 2004.

The amendment filed last week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the delays are to satisfy requests by the project shippers. (CP98-540-003)

Rather than the Nov. 1, 2001 in-service date for 700 MMcf/d of deliveries into the Northeast market, Williams' Transco is proposing a multi-stage project, including Phase I by Nov. 1, 2001 and Phase II by Nov. 1, 2002, for a total of about 296 MMcf/d at a cost of $242 million. The remainder of the project will be further phased in as shippers firm up agreements. Williams expects the entire 700 MMcf/d to be in service by Nov. 1, 2004.

Williams pointed to delays in siting and certification for new power generation customers, plus ownership transfers. It did not mention delays in its own FERC certification due to protests by citizen groups and the state of New Jersey. The state has filed a court suit to stop the project (see NGI, June 26). Nor did it mention delays in certification of the Independence and SupplyLink pipeline projects, which FERC considered all part of one integrated system from Chicago to the Northeast. Independence has received its certificate but still is subject to rehearing (see NGI, July 17). Transco said MarketLink is not dependent on the other projects.

"The proposed phasing of construction will enable Williams to construct facilities necessary to meet the timing requirements of the market. Williams will file to construct additional phases of the project as shippers finalize their arrangements," said Gary Lauderdale, senior vice president and general manager, Williams' Transco pipeline system. "This filing clearly demonstrates strong market support for the project." Also, by the time two winters hence, Transco gets to the latter half of the project, the political climate may have changed.

In the amendment, Williams filed firm service agreements for Phase I with seven shippers including Aquila Energy Marketing for 25,000 Dth/d; Consolidated Edison for 30,000 Dth/d; ConEdison Energy for 10,000 Dth/d; St. Lawrence Cement for 1,000 Dth/d; and Williams Energy Marketing & Trading for 100,000 Dth/d for a total of 166,000 Dth/d for Phase I.

Phase II includes 100,000 Dth/d for Virginia Power Energy Marketing, and 30,000 Dth/d for PPL EnergyPlus.

Transco said construction of the Phase I and Phase II facilities will not involve construction or impacts to any New Jersey Green Acres properties, which had been part of the landowner disputes. The company said it has reached agreement with about 74% of the landowners required to construct Phase I and about 70% of landowners for Phase II. The company has received all permits and clearances necessary from Pennsylvania and is awaiting action on those from New Jersey.

Phases I and II of the project will require construction of 30 miles of pipeline segments in Pennsylvania and 30 miles in New Jersey. Construction is expected to occur either parallel to or entirely within existing utility corridors. Construction of Phase 1 is scheduled to begin in April 2001 and cost $123 million. The estimated cost of Phase 2 facilities is $119 million.

New Phase I facilities include 12.46 miles of 36-inch pipeline loop starting at milepost 161.29 in Lycoming County PA and running into Clinton Co., PA; 4.17 miles of 42-inch pipe between milesposts 25.20 and 29.37 in Warren County, NJ; 5.46 miles of 42-inch pipeline loop between mileposts 1802.73 and 1808.19 in Middlesex and Union Counties, NJ. Also on tap are new compressors and upgrading of existing units at Stations 517 and 205, and modifications of equipment at station 200; and modifications to reduce pressure in Transco's 42-inch Mainline E from 800 psig to 638 psig at the Linden regulator station in Union County, NJ.

Ellen Beswick

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