FERC staff will prepare an environmental assessment for Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America LLC's (NGPL) Chicago Market Expansion Project, the Commission said in a notice.

Natural, a Kinder Morgan Inc. pipeline, plans to construct a 30,000 hp compressor station and related facilities in Livingston County, IL. The Project would provide about 238,000 Dth of incremental northbound firm transportation capacity to the city of Chicago and neighboring areas.

Last fall NGPL held a binding open season for expansion capacity on its mainline system from the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) interconnection in Moultrie County, IL, to points north on NGPL's system (see Daily GPIOct. 16, 2014). That resulted in binding agreements with Antero Resources, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and Occidental Energy Marketing Inc. (see Daily GPIApril 15).

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According to delivery schedules and NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index calculations, REX has averaged 86% of its delivery capacity into NGPL at Moultrie County so far in July (see chart).

Meanwhile, REX operator Tallgrass Energy Partners LP is to bring online new westbound capacity in the pipeline's Zone 3 beginning Aug. 1. It is the pipeline's East-to-West Project and will add 1.2 Bcf/d of capacity, enabling REX to flow 1.8 Bcf/d bidirectionally between the Clarington Hub in Ohio and the Moultrie interconnect with NGPL (see Daily GPIJune 3June 24, 2014).

With a flood of Marcellus natural gas lining up at the exit of the Appalachian Basin, some analysts believe there is a good chance Midwest natural gas pricing could get trampled as the gas races to previously inaccessible markets (see Shale Daily, July 13).

Separately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also recently scheduled the environmental review for the REX Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement Project, which would add compressor stations and horsepower to existing stations to create 800,000 Dth/d of additional westbound capacity in the pipeline's Zone 3 (see Daily GPIJuly 13).