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WGL Seeks to Block Cove Point Expansion Until Interchangeability Issues Resolved

Washington Gas Light (WGL), which serves metropolitan Washington, DC, has called on FERC to reject the proposed expansion of Dominion Cove Point LP's liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and associated pipeline project until it can be demonstrated at a evidentiary hearing that imported LNG is fully interchangeable with traditional gas and will not negatively impact the utility's system.

The protest and request for evidentiary hearing follow claims by WGL earlier this year that vaporized LNG from Dominion's Cove Point terminal was to blame for widespread leaks on its distribution system in Price Georges County, MD. WGL commissioned a study that determined that LNG was the key factor contributing to the deterioration of rubber seals in mechanical couplings that join sections of distribution mains to service lines on the WGL gas distribution system (see NGI, July 11).

Prince George's is the most populous county served directly off the Cove Point Pipeline, carrying regasified LNG from the Cove Point terminal in eastern Maryland. The Cove Point line continues on to connect with three major interstate pipelines where the regasified LNG is commingled with domestic gas before going into distribution lines for the rest of the metropolitan Washington area.

WGL contends that the proposed Cove Point terminal expansion, which would increase sendout capacity to 1.8 Bcf/d and storage capacity to 14.5 Bcf, would potentially cause even more problems on its system. The expansion project also entails the construction of 161 miles of pipeline in Maryland and Pennsylvania (CP05-130, CP05-131). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a favorable environmental review of the project last Friday, putting it only two steps away from receiving a certificate (see NGI, Oct. 31).

"The Commission should not grant the requested certificates until such time as necessary tariff provisions [pertaining to gas interchangeability] are implemented or facilities [are] constructed for prevention and/or remediation of adverse consequences to the safety of Washington Gas which could occur from the increased flow of revaporized gas," the Washington, DC-based gas utility said.

WGL is taking this action to "assure that the gas...delivered to Washington Gas either directly through the Cove Point gate stations or through the interconnections with the three interstate pipelines provides gas of such quality that it is interchangeable with gas historically received by Washington Gas and does not cause harm to end-use applications or to the distribution infrastructure."

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