The staffs of FERC and a number of cooperating agencies Friday gave the final environmental go-ahead for Transwestern Pipeline's proposed expansion to provide natural gas to the fast-growing Phoenix, AZ, area.

"The agency staffs have determined that construction and operation of the Phoenix Expansion project would result in limited adverse environmental impacts," said FERC staff, along with the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Office of Pipeline Safety, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Navajo Nation, in a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on the project [CP06-459].

FERC staff also issued a final general conformity determination, which concluded that "the project has demonstrated that it will achieve conformity through compliance" with federal clean air laws and applicable state implementation plans.

The project calls for the expansion of Transwestern's existing system in New Mexico and Arizona, and the acquisition of an undivided interest in the existing 37-mile, 24-inch diameter East Valley Lateral, which extends between Pinal and Maricopa counties, AZ. Specifically, the project would extend Transwestern's pipeline system 260 miles from its mainline in Yavapai County, AZ, to delivery points in the growing Phoenix market. Transwestern also proposes to build 25 miles of pipe looping on its existing San Juan Lateral.

The expansion would deliver 500 MMcf/d to the Phoenix area, which currently is served only by competitor El Paso Natural Gas. It would provide Arizona utilities access to more San Juan Basin gas production and would give Transwestern's existing shippers, many of whom are marketers and producers, access to additional markets for natural gas.

The project would be construct in two overlapping phases. The first phase would involve the construction of the Phoenix Lateral, customer laterals and associated aboveground facilities. Construction of these facilities is expected to occur over a 12- to 13-month period beginning in the fall of 2007, according to the FEIS. The second phase would involve the construction of the San Juan Lateral loops and compressor station upgrades. This phase would be constructed over a three-month period beginning in early 2008.

Transwestern, a Southern Union company subsidiary, extends 2,400 miles from the San Juan, Anadarko and Permian basins to the California border.

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