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Tennessee Eyes Expansion to Tap Marcellus Shale Potential

El Paso Corp.'s Tennessee Gas Pipeline is considering expanding its mainline system and its Northeast Passage Project, which would deliver Rockies natural gas to East Coast markets, in response to shippers' requests for takeaway capacity from the emerging Marcellus Shale play in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Marcellus Shale play sits atop Tennessee's 300 Line, said Stanley Chapman, vice president of marketing and business development. Shippers have asked for interconnections on Tennessee across the 300 Line to transport more than 1 Bcf/d of Marcellus Shale gas, he said.

Chapman said Tennessee currently is looking at an in-corridor expansion, which would entail looping and the addition of compression on mainline facilities in West Virginia and Kentucky to aggregate traditional Appalachian gas and Marcellus gas, along with Rockies resources. He noted that Tennessee plans to hold an open season for the in-corridor expansion in the "very near term." Other expansion options also are being weighed, he noted.

Pittsburgh-based Equitable Resources Inc. and Tennessee plan to build the Northeast Passage Project, a 1.1 Bcf/d line that would extend from the eventual terminus of the Rockies Express Pipeline in Clarington, OH, to the New York market. Equitable is a major player in the Marcellus Shale, along with Range Resources Corp., Atlas Energy and Chesapeake Energy.

Tennessee is the second pipeline that is seeking to adjust its project to give shippers the opportunity to tap both Rockies and Marcellus Shale gas. In May Williams' Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line said it would combine its Rockies Connector and Northeast Connector into the Northeast Supply project, which would connect East Coast markets to gas supply from the Rockies, Appalachia and the Marcellus Shale (see NGI, May 12). The open season for transportation capacity on the project ended last Monday.

The Marcellus Shale play runs across portions of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Gas reserves in the Marcellus are anybody's guess. The U.S. Geological Survey in 2002 estimated that the Marcellus contained approximately 1.9 Tcf. Pennsylvania State University's Terry Engelder has estimated Marcellus reserves at 168 Tcf, but his figures are unconfirmed (see NGI, April 7).

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