Duke Energy's East Tennessee Natural Gas pipeline last Tuesday received environmental clearance from FERC for a proposed lateral in southwestern Virginia that would provide Appalachian natural gas producers with access to more markets.

"Approval of the proposed project, with appropriate mitigating measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment," FERC staff said in its environmental assessment of the so-called Jewell Ridge Lateral project [CP05-413].

The 32-mile, 20-inch diameter lateral pipeline would connect the East Tennessee mainline system to CNX Gas Co. LLC's existing Cardinal States Gathering System in Tazewell County in southwestern Virginia. Cardinal States has contracted for 210,000 Dth/d of the available capacity of the project, according to East Tennessee's parent, Duke Energy Gas Transmission.

The project, to be in service in the summer of 2006, would provide a total of 235,000 Dth/d of firm transportation capacity that can be later expanded to meet demand.

In addition to connecting to Cardinal States Gathering, East Tennessee said the project would provide an alternate supply source to southeastern natural gas consumers; provide East Tennessee's existing pipeline customers in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia with enhanced access to new gas supplies from the Appalachian basin and build upon southwest Virginia's existing energy infrastructure.

The proposed Jewell Ridge lateral would offer natural gas service to some areas in Virginia, such as Richlands, Cedar Bluff and Claypool Hill, for the first time, the pipeline said.

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