Looking to further open up the transportation of natural gas from the various shales in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC (MEP) last week filed an application with FERC requesting a certificate of public convenience and necessity for an approximately $1.27 billion, 500-mile transmission system.

The company said construction on the pipeline, which will have an initial capacity of 1.4 Bcf/d and travel from Oklahoma to Alabama, is expected to begin in August 2008 to have the system in service by the first quarter of 2009.

First announced in December of last year (see NGI, Dec. 18, 2006), the Midcontinent Express Pipeline is a 50/50 joint venture of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) and Energy Transfer Partners LLC. KMP is managing the construction of the project and will operate the pipeline.

The much-anticipated project is in response to robust natural gas production in Oklahoma and North Texas. It will help move gas eastward to markets in Florida and the Northeast. The pipe project is also seen as a way to keep supply and markets connected should Gulf of Mexico production go off-line in the event of a hurricane.

"Midcontinent Express will strengthen the nation's energy infrastructure by providing access to Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets for growing domestic onshore supplies of clean-burning natural gas from the Barnett Shale and Bossier Sand in Texas, the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas and the Woodford/Caney Shale in Oklahoma, as well as other new and existing gas supplies in the region," said Scott Parker, president of natural gas pipelines for KMP.

The project will extend from southeast Oklahoma across northeast Texas, northern Louisiana and central Mississippi to an interconnection with the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco) near Butler, AL. MEP already has binding commitments of approximately 1 Bcf/d from creditworthy shippers for long-term transportation capacity, the company said.

The pipeline will consist of approximately 265 miles of 42-inch diameter, 196 miles of 36-inch diameter and 41 miles of 30-inch diameter pipe, and have up to 13 receipt/delivery interconnections. The delivery interconnections will provide access to numerous downstream markets, including those served by NGPL, Transco, Texas Eastern, Tennessee, Columbia Gulf, Texas Gas, Southern Natural, Destin and ANR.

In December Parker told NGI that Chesapeake Energy Marketing Inc., an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corp., had stepped up for 500,000 Dth/d of capacity for a 10-year term at negotiated fixed rates.

As is the case with pipeline development, one project almost never stands alone. MEP will have competition in moving gas from the Midcontinent and Texas eastward, and the other projects are already in various states of development, construction, or are already completed. MEP's company includes:

MEP held multiple open houses this spring along its pipe's proposed route. MEP noted that to minimize disruptions to landowners, communities and the environment, the pipeline will follow existing pipeline and power line rights-of-way wherever feasible. The company added that on a national level, the pipeline is expected to help foster more stable energy prices by improving access to domestic natural gas.

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