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Columbia Group's Rayne, Leach Projects Advance Together at FERC

FERC will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the related pipeline projects Rayne XPress Expansion by Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC and the Leach XPress project of affiliate Columbia Gas Transmission LLC, which would create more Marcellus/Utica shale exit capacity.

The related projects were announced one year ago by the Columbia Pipeline Group (see Shale DailyAug. 12, 2014). Last June Columbia Gas applied at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a certificate for its Leach XPress, which would add up to 1.53 million Dth/d of capacity to "more liquid markets" for gas from Appalachia (see Daily GPIJune 8). And at the end of July Columbia Gulf filed for Rayne XPress [CP15-539].

In the June filing Columbia Gas told the Commission that Rayne may have a connection to Leach. "Until the details of the Rayne XPress project are filed and more fully understood, the Commission cannot begin preparation of the EIS [for Leach]..." it said. With the filing for the Rayne project, the connection is confirmed, "...and thus we can begin our analysis," FERC said in its Tuesday notice of the Rayne application.

Rayne is designed to expand the capacity of Columbia Gulf's existing mainline to transport up to an additional 621,000 Dth/d of in a north-to-south direction and ensure that firm, contractual obligations are maintained for existing customers served from Columbia Gulf's mainline, the pipeline told FERC in its July 29 filing.

"Columbia Gulf's system has historically transported gas in a south-to-north direction," the pipeline said. "The [Rayne] project is necessary to increase pipeline capacity when Columbia Gulf's mainline capacity is operating in a north-to-south flow. Project shippers will, therefore, benefit from the bi-directional operation of the mainline, providing shippers the opportunity to access Gulf markets, as well as, more liquid pools, including firm deliveries to the Gulf Mainline Pool.

"The rapid development of primarily the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Appalachian Basin has increased such that the natural gas supplies being produced have greatly outpaced the capability of the current natural gas infrastructure to transport these gas supplies to market. Changes in traditional supply sources, along with a growing market demand along the Gulf Coast region for lower cost gas supplies, has increased the demand for new natural gas transportation services along Columbia Gulf's system.

"To meet this demand, Columbia Gulf is required to modify its system to allow for additional north-to-south transportation capacity for gas supplies received via Columbia Gulf's interconnections with Columbia Gas Transmission LLC, located at the northern terminus of Columbia Gulf's system in Leach, KY."

The Rayne project entails two new compressor stations with combined horsepower of 51,800 and related facilities.

In the June filing for Leach, Columbia Gas said the project would provide "...varying levels of capacity depending upon where natural gas is received" [CP15-514]. At the time, four shippers -- unnamed in the public version of the filing -- had signed up for 90% of the available capacity.

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