Alliance Pipeline Inc. and Questar Overthrust Pipeline entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last week to develop the Rockies Alliance Pipeline (RAP), a jointly owned interstate natural gas pipeline that would extend from Wamsutter, WY, to the Minnesota/Canadian border at the Emerson trading hub.

The proposed 42-inch diameter pipe would extend about 800 miles on a northeasterly route through Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota, connecting Rockies production to markets in the Midwest and central Canada. RAP proposes interconnecting with downstream pipelines that include Alliance Pipeline, Northern Border, Great Lakes Gas Transmission and TransCanada PipeLines. The pipe interconnects would offer direct access to the Chicago Hub, Michigan and Dawn storage, and Upper Midwest and Northeast markets.

The pipe would provide maximum receipt flexibility to access the growing gas supplies in the Rocky Mountains region originating in the Wamsutter hub (Questar, Wyoming Interstate Co., Colorado Interstate Gas Co. and Rockies Express Pipeline) as well as the Powder River Basin area around Dead Horse and Gillette, WY, the sponsors said. In addition, they noted that RAP would offer multiple delivery options and zonal rates with the various interstate pipelines.

“Alliance has extensive expertise in constructing and operating transmission systems,” said Alliance CEO Murray Birch. Alliance Pipeline is jointly owned by affiliates of Enbridge Inc. and Fort Chicago Energy Partners LP.

A binding open season is scheduled to launch May 1. The sponsors said they would work with prospective shippers to determine the most efficient size, route and timing of in-service date for the RAP facilities and would be flexible in the project design to meet shippers’ needs in the most effective way.

Subject to obtaining shipper commitment and regulatory approvals, the pipeline could be placed into service as early as mid-2011.

“Rockies natural gas is an attractive alternative to Canadian gas and imported LNG [liquefied natural gas]”, said Questar Pipeline CEO Allan Bradley. “This is a project whose time has come.” Questar Pipeline is a subsidiary of Salt Lake City-based Questar Corp.

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