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Sabal Trail Gets OK to Start Up More of Phase 1, Grow Capacity to 830,000 Dth/d

FERC on Monday authorized Sabal Trail Transmission LLC to place more of the natural gas project's Phase 1 facilities into service, increasing its total capacity to 830,000 Dth/d.

Sabal Trail [CP15-17] is to place new compression units online at three locations on its route, including a 25,000 hp unit at the Alexander City Compressor Station in Tallapoosa County, AL, a 25,000 hp unit at the Hildreth Compressor Station in Suwanee County, FL, and a 15,900 hp compressor unit at the Reunion Compressor Station in Osceola County, FL.

Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Sabal Trail the OK to place the first part of the project into service, adding about 400,000 Dth/d of new capacity to deliver gas to Florida Power & Light Co.'s Martin Next Generation Clean Energy Center in Martin County, FL.

Sabal, a joint venture of Spectra Energy Partners LP, NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy, consists of about 515 miles of pipeline, six compressor stations and six meter stations across Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The project, combined with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.'s (Transco) Hillabee Expansion on one end and the Florida Southeast Connection (FSC) project on the other, would open up additional deliveries of gas into Florida from the Transco Zone 4 pool. Sabal is designed to eventually deliver roughly 1 Bcf/d from Transco into Florida.

Having been in-service since mid-June, Sabal, Hillabee and FSC should help take some of the edge off Florida natural gas prices this summer by adding a substantial new pathway for gas to flow into the Sunshine State.

During periods of peak cooling demand, FGT Citygate has been one of the most expensive points in the country in the day-ahead market. Gas delivered there traded as high as $6.82/MMBtu in July 2016, a nearly $4 premium to Henry Hub, according to NGI prices.

The projects should "bring supply diversity to the Florida market, which gets constrained in the summer months when cooling demand rises," analysts with Genscape Inc. told NGI recently.

As of late June, Sabal had been averaging around 210 MMcf/d taken from Hillabee and delivered to the Martin Clean Energy Center via FSC, according to Genscape.

The Martin facility "is a massive plant with a combined nameplate capacity of at least 4,317.5 MW. It is serviced by Florida Gas Transmission (FGT), Gulfstream and now FSC. It has nominated up to 600 MMcf/d before FSC came online, has already nominated up to 587 MMcf/d of combined deliveries since FSC came online, and we believe that it can handle more," Genscape said.

Between May 26 and June 26, "Florida demand ranged from 3.25 Bcf/d to 4.47 Bcf/d, with all variance explained by cooling demand," the analysts said. "In other words, the 209 MMcf/d being delivered to the Martin plant is in addition to existing demand and is displacing a small amount of gas from FGT or Gulfstream. In the mid-term, this new infrastructure could relieve price pressure for FGT Zone 3 and FGT Citygate while providing some uplift for Transco Zone 4 prices, although that has not happened yet.

"Longer term, however, some of the changes to FGT Zone 3 may revert as the new power plant demand comes online."

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