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Northwest Pipe Gets OK to Replace Aged System in Western Washington State

FERC last week issued a certificate to Williams' Northwest Pipeline authorizing an estimated $333 million project to replace natural gas delivery capacity on the pipeline system in western Washington State.

The project calls for the abandonment of 268 miles of 26-inch pipeline between Sumas and Washougal, WA, the construction of 79.5 miles of 36-inch pipe in four separate loops (referred to as the Sumas, Mount Vernon, Snohomish and Fort Lewis loops), and the modification of five existing compressor stations for a total of 10,760 net horsepower of new compression [CP05-32]. The company has targeted in-service for November 2006.

The new pipeline facilities and addition of compression horsepower will replace most of the capacity attributable to the existing 26-inch diameter pipeline.

Northwest's so-called Capacity Replacement Project was prompted by ruptures on the pipeline's 26-inch diameter system on May 1, 2003 near Lake Trapps, WA, and on Dec. 13 of that year near Toledo in Lewis County, WA. Although there were no explosions or injuries, the federal Office of Pipeline Safety and the Pipeline Safety Division of the state Utilities and Transportation Commission ordered Northwest to replace portions of the defective pipeline, which was installed in 1956.

The order gives Northwest two years to construct and place the new facilities in service. It also requires Northwest to notify FERC within 10 days of abandoning the aged pipeline facilities.

Salt Lake City, UT-based Northwest Pipeline's system consists of 4,158 miles of pipeline, delivering 3.5 Bcf/d of natural gas to markets in the western United States. Its major markets are Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR.

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