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REX Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement Gets Favorable EA

FERC staff Monday released a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement project, which would help move more natural gas from the Marcellus Shale westward.

Staff made some recommendations for mitigation measures in addition to those proposed by REX. It noted in the EA that some commenters suggested other REX projects in the area could have cumulative environmental impacts along with the Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement. These were analyzed, and no impacts were found to be significant [CP15-137]. Additionally, staff looked at the proposed ET Rover Pipeline, a project proposed by Energy Transfer Partners LP (see Shale DailyOct. 31, 2014).

"Operational air quality associated with Rover Pipeline Project and the Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement Project could potentially result in cumulative environmental impacts," staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said. "However, there are no aboveground facilities within 50 miles of the proposed compressor stations associated with the Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement Project. The Rover Pipeline Project would not result in operational emissions and, as such, would not result in a cumulative impact on air quality during operation."

Staff also received comments about the potential for more Marcellus exit capacity on REX to stimulate shale development and, therefore, increase the consequent environmental impacts of the upstream development.

"Commenters assert that the impacts associated with drilling must be fully analyzed because there is a direct (or indirect) correlation with the project," staff said. "The development of the Marcellus Shale, which is regulated by the states, continues to drive the need for takeaway pipeline capacity to allow the gas to reach markets. Therefore, FERC jurisdictional interstate transmission facilities are being built in response to this new source of gas supply; however, Marcellus Shale upstream facilities are outside the scope of this cumulative analysis because the exact location, scale, and timing of future facilities, as they pertain specifically to the proposed action, is unknown."

The Zone 3 Capacity Enhancement would provide an additional 800 MMcf/d of east-to-west capacity in the pipeline's Zone 3. It would consist of one new 49,428 hp compressor station in Pickaway County, OH; one new 31,791 hp compressor station in Fayette County, OH; one new 37,038 hp compressor station in Decatur County, IN; an additional 38,400 hp of compression, gas cooling facilities, and a new power and control building at the existing Chandlersville Compressor Station in Muskingum County, OH; and gas cooling facilities and a new power and control building at the existing Hamilton Compressor Station in Warren County, OH.

REX has said it expects the project to be in service by the fourth quarter of 2016. The pipeline recently asked FERC for authorization to place its East-to-West project fully in service Monday (Aug. 31) and was awaiting word early Monday afternoon (see Shale DailyAug. 19).

Check out NGI's Rockies Express Zone 3 Tracker for the latest flow data and associated natural gas price movement in the region.

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