Alliance Service Delay Extended To End of November
Alliance Pipeline conceded last week that its commercial
in-service date will have to be delayed for the third time, this
time until the end of November, because of continued problems with
debris in the pipe and trouble getting the enormously complex
components of the system working in sync (see NGI, Sept. 11; Oct.
23). The 1,900-mile project originally was supposed to be in
service Oct. 1.
"Normal commissioning activities are continuing and most of the
debris has been removed from the line," says Alliance CEO Norm
Gish. "However, periodic reductions in the flow of test gas due to
the debris have complicated the required integration with
concurrent commissioning activities at the Aux Sable Liquid
Products processing facility near Chicago." A spokesman said the
debris included "bits of foam" that came off equipment used to
extract moisture following hydrostatic testing.
The complexity of the Alliance Pipeline operations also has led
some observers to predict a lengthy delay before commercial
service. The pipeline has an immensely complicated system patented
by Alliance engineers that is designed to transport gas liquids in
a gas phase with the 1.325 Bcf/d of natural gas from British
Columbia and northern Alberta through 1,900 miles of pipe to the
Aux Sable liquids extraction plant near Chicago. The pipeline also
incorporates a cutting edge electronic control system designed to
allow the pipeline to be operated by a single pilot in a downtown
Calgary control room. Alliance operators say they are actually
operating three pipelines: a physical pipe, a paper pipe and an
e-pipe, which brings all aspects of the operation together around
the clock 365 days a year. "It's a tremendously complicated system
and all the parts are interdependent, for it to work, they all have
to work together."
Regardless of the delay, however, Alliance already is flowing a
large amount of gas into the Chicago market. "At this point in our
commissioning activities, the system is flowing at approximately 40
to 50% of capacity. We expect to continue increasing the volume of
test gas and approaching our firm delivery capacity of 37.5 million
cubic meters (1.325 Bcf) per day prior to the end of November."
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