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Market Interest in Pacific Northwest Pipe Tested

Williams and Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the utility subsidiary of Puget Energy, announced an open season last Thursday to test shipper interest in the proposed Blue Bridge Pipeline, which would provide Pacific Northwest markets with increased access to Rocky Mountain and Canadian natural gas supplies at Stanfield, OR. The open season will run through May 30.

Blue Bridge would be operated as part of Williams' Northwest Pipeline system, with service provided under Northwest's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gas tariff. PSE would be an anchor shipper on the new pipeline and may become an equity investor in the project, according to Tulsa, OK-based Williams.

The Blue Bridge project, which the companies announced in March, calls for the construction of up to 172 miles of 30- and 36-inch diameter pipeline and the installation of additional compression horsepower at Northwest's existing compressor stations in Plymouth, Washougal and Chehalis,WA (see NGI, March 31). The project would offer gas transportation capacity of up to 500,000 Dth/d, and the majority of the Blue Bridge route would follow Northwest's existing pipeline corridor.

Williams and PSE said the project would provide increased access to Rocky Mountain gas supplies through Williams' and TransCanada's proposed Sunstone Pipeline to be constructed between Opal, WY, and Stanfield. In early March, Williams and TransCanada Corp. announced Sunstone as the latest Rockies east-to-west gas pipeline proposal that would move supplies to the West Coast (see NGI, March 17).

Shippers on the Blue Bridge project could also access Canadian supplies through Northwest's existing interconnect with Gas Transmission Northwest. Blue Bridge shippers could deliver to any point on the Northwest's system between Stanfield and the I-5 corridor, including the major market areas of Seattle and Portland.

"Both the Puget Sound region and Oregon's Willamette Valley continue to experience steady growth in their economies and populations -- and in their demand for...natural gas," said Kimberly Harris, PSE executive vice president.

"As the demand for natural gas continues to grow in the Pacific Northwest, Blue Bridge would provide shippers with a number of attractive options for accessing gas supplies from both the Rocky Mountains and Canada," said Phil Wright, president of Williams' gas pipeline business. "Additionally, Blue Bridge customers will enjoy the flexibility provided by Northwest's system."

For more information on the open season, contact Northwest Pipeline's Hank Henrie at (801) 584-6625, Larry Larsen at (801) 584-6645 or Xan Kotter at (801) 584-6496. Shippers who would like Blue Bridge capacity must fill out and return a binding precedent agreement by 3 p.m. MDT on May 30.

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