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Nexus Adds Columbia Gas of Ohio to Capacity Commitments

Nexus Gas Transmission LLC has added a long-awaited utility to its capacity commitments, recently filing a supplement to its November certificate application with FERC that details an agreement with Columbia Gas of Ohio Inc. to deliver up to 50,000 Dth/d.

The precedent agreement, Nexus said in a filing on Wednesday, covers a primary term of 15 years from receipt points at two planned project interconnections with the Texas Eastern Transmission LP pipeline in Ohio and Pennsylvania to a planned interconnection in Sandusky County, OH, with facilities of Columbia Gas Transmission LLC. Under the agreement, Nexus has negotiated a rate based on those receipt points and secondary delivery points in Medina County, OH.

A subsidiary of NiSource Inc., Columbia Gas of Ohio is the state's largest natural gas utility, serving 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers there. In 2015, the utility filed a comment letter in the Nexus pre-filing docket, saying the "strategic routing and design of the Nexus project will provide Columbia Gas access to affordable supplies of Appalachian natural gas that will operationally support the expansion of its existing distribution infrastructure to meet the growing demand of Columbia Gas's customers in Medina, Sandusky and other Ohio counties."

The 255-mile Nexus pipeline would move 1.5 Bcf/d of Marcellus and Utica shale gas from eastern Ohio into Michigan, connecting Appalachian gas to markets in the Midwest and Canada. The project is under development by Spectra Energy Corp. and DTE Energy Co., which are aiming for a 4Q2017 in-service date.

"The precedent agreement with [Columbia Gas] confirms the market's sustained and growing interest in the Nexus project as proposed," the company's filing said. In a statement, Spectra added that it continues to receive interest from customers, noting that the pipeline has been designed to provide local distribution companies in northern Ohio access to affordable Appalachian gas.

Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. analysts said that while they expect the pipeline to be built "given the quality of the counterparties," they called the size of the Columbia Gas commitment "underwhelming." The agreement, TPH said, moves the project's total committed capacity from 65% to 68%.

Adding an LDC is an important achievement, however. The pipeline has faced strong opposition, particularly in some parts of Ohio, where more than a dozen communities have passed resolutions opposing the project or voiced their support for significant reroutes (seeShale Daily, March 30, 2015). In July, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a favorable draft environmental impact statement for Nexus (see Shale DailyJuly 11).

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