Alliance Pipeline, on the leading edge of a new pipeline trend in the United States, has filed with FERC and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to increase the maximum allowed operating pressure (MAOP) of the U.S. portion of the line from 72% of the specified minimum yield strength (SMYS) to 80%.

The upper limit would go from 1,740 psig to 1,935.1 psig and would conform with the MAOP on the Canadian portion of the 1,875-mile system. Alliance said increasing the pressure would increase operating efficiency and reduce the amount of compressor fuel needed. The line carries up to 1.325 Bcf/d from Western Canada to the Chicago area.

While the increase in capacity will be virtually nil, the fuel cost savings to shippers will amount to an estimated $11.1 million a year. Alliance calculates fuel saved at 5.1 MMcf/d multiplied by an estimated average cost of gas of $5.45/MMBtu.

Alliance, a relatively new pipeline completed in 2000, said it did extensive analysis and testing of its system’s ability to withstand the increased pressure before filing with the Department of Transportation’s PHMSA last December. An Alliance spokesman noted that the Canadian section of the pipeline already operates at 80% SMYS, which is the accepted standard in most parts of the world. He also pointed out that several other pipelines have recently filed for a similar variance, including the Rockies Express pipeline project.

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