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Columbia’s Leach XPress Goes into Service Jan. 1

FERC has granted a request from Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC to place into service the Leach XPress project, which would add up to 1.53 million Dth/d of capacity for gas from Appalachia.

Nominations will be accepted beginning for the Jan. 1 timely cycle, in the midst of colder-than-normal temperatures, Columbia said in a notice on its electronic bulletin board Friday.

"With flows commencing on Jan. 1 during these cold temperatures, operators and customers must ensure that scheduled nominations equal flowing supplies from the new interconnects," Columbia cautioned

Columbia requested authorization Dec. 13 to commence service on all project facilities on Jan. 1 [CP15-514]. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted authorization Thursday.

The project consists of two greenfield pipelines, two natural gas pipeline loops, the abandonment in place of a segment of one existing natural gas pipeline, three greenfield compressor stations, three new compressors at an existing station and abandonment of a  compressor, and various appurtenant and auxiliary facilities in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Columbia announced the project in 2014, one day after ongoing capacity constraints in the Marcellus region rocked next-day natural gas prices. Columbia filed at FERC for a certificate for the Leach XPress project 18 months ago, saying the project would offer shippers "the opportunity to access more liquid markets as a result of being connected to numerous markets and points of delivery on Columbia's reticulated pipeline system, including firm deliveries to TCO Pool." There would be an interconnection with Columbia Gulf near Leach, KY, according to the application.

The green light for Leach XPress further adds to the list of Appalachian natural gas takeaway expansions coming online for the winter heating season. In early November, FERC gave Columbia the go-ahead to start up the 1 Bcf/d Rayne XPress Expansion Project, which consists of 3,341 miles of pipe running through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky [CP15-539].

Columbia Pipeline Group planned Rayne XPress and Leach XPress at a combined cost of $1.75 billion. CPG was acquired by TransCanada last year.

The in-service authorization for Rayne came one day after FERC cleared Texas Eastern Transmission LP to start-up the Adair Southwest and Access South expansions, which also opened up additional takeaway capacity for trapped Appalachian volumes.

Energy Transfer Partners LP's 3.25 Bcf/d Rover Pipeline has also begun service, taking about 1 Bcf/d east-to-west out of the basin and opening up avenues for Appalachian gas also to reach Gulf Coast markets. FERC on Dec. 15 cleared Rover Pipeline LLC to place three eastern Ohio supply laterals and associated compression into service, clearing the way for the 3.25 Bcf/d, 710-mile pipeline to offer up additional capacity to producers by the end of the year, as scheduled.

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