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Rockies Express Gets Additional Year to Complete Phase One

FERC last Thursday granted Rockies Express Pipeline LLC, formerly Entrega Gas Pipeline LLC, more time to complete work on Phase I of a 327-mile pipeline system that would tie in with the rest of the mammoth Rockies Express pipeline in northern Colorado. The company is a joint venture of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP and Sempra Pipelines & Storage, co-sponsors of the Rockies Express pipeline.

The project, which FERC approved in August 2005, calls for the 327-mile line to be built in two phases. Phase I of the pipeline would run from the Meeker Hub in Rio Blanco County, CO, northward to the Wamsutter Hub in Sweetwater County, WY, and then southeastward to the Cheyenne Hub in Weld County, CO. Phase II includes the construction of three compressor stations.

Phase I of the pipeline project is being built in two sections -- 136 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline from the Meeker Hub to the Wamsutter Hub, and 191 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline from the Wamsutter Hub to the Cheyenne Hub. The first half of Phase I went into service in February.

Phase I of the pipeline project was supposed to be completed in August of this year, but the company requested a delay until Jan. 1, 2007, citing scheduling and timing problems related to the delivery of the pipe needed to complete the second half of Phase I, as well as permitting difficulties. FERC last Thursday gave Rockies Express an additional year -- until August 2007 -- to finish Phase I of the project. The FERC order approving the project requires Phase II to be operational by that time as well.

William L. Zoller of FERC's Office of Energy Projects said the agency awarded Rockies Express more time than it requested to complete Phase I so that the company would not have to seek additional deadline extensions in the future. Noting that the completion deadlines for Phase I and Phase II now overlap, he conceded that Rockies Express potentially could seek more time to finish Phase II.

The company's plan is to have Phase I done by the end of the year, said Rock Meyer, president of west region gas pipelines for Kinder Morgan, which includes Rockies Express. And it expects to have the Phase II compression portion of the project in service by no later than the end of 2007, he noted.

Upon completion of Phase I and II, the facilities would connect at Cheyenne Hub with the proposed 1,350-mile Rockies Express pipeline system, which would extend to Clarington, OH, at a connection with Dominion Gas Transmission, Dominion East Ohio and Texas Eastern Transmission (see NGI, Nov. 14, 2005). The Rockies Express project also would interconnect with more than 10 other major interstate pipeline systems. Plans are in the works to extend the line further east.

If approved by FERC, the $4 billion, up to 42-inch diameter Kinder Morgan-Sempra gas pipeline to carry Rockies gas eastward to Ohio would be the largest built in the United States in more than 20 years.

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