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Enbridge Energy Partners LP announced a nonbinding open season for additional firm capacity on the Midla pipeline system, a 170-mile, 22-inch diameter, low-pressure pipeline spanning Louisiana and Mississippi from the Perryville Hub area at the north end of the system to the large Baton Rouge, LA, industrial complex at the south end. "This proposed expansion efficiently adds market-area capacity to the Midla system for the benefit of shippers," said Steve Merritt, commercial vice president of subsidiary Enbridge Pipelines (Midla) LLC. "The strategic installation of new compression will allow Midla shippers access to both low-pressure gas supply and to gas market hubs, interstate pipelines and industrial markets, which will maximize gas value in an easy and operationally efficient manner. The new compression configuration would allow shippers access to supply throughout the Midla pipeline system as well as the ability to transport gas to attractive markets without the need to install site-specific compression, thus saving tremendous capital and operating costs." The project would enable access to pipelines and markets in the Perryville Hub area, the ANR Pipeline in Franklin Parish, LA, the Transco Pipeline in West Feliciana Parish, and the industrial facilities in the Baton Rouge area. Each connection is planned to service 25,000 MMBtu/d. It is scheduled to be complete in the third quarter of 2009. The open season begins at 8 a.m. CST, Dec. 1, and ends at 5 p.m. CST, Feb. 28, 2009. A one-part, firm, nondiscountable transportation rate per MMBtu (to be disclosed to shippers by Enbridge after a confidentiality agreement is executed) will apply to all shippers that negotiate definitive agreements. For information contact Steve Merritt at (832) 214-5740.

El Paso Natural Gas Co. (EPNG) is holding a binding open season for a proposed new 2 Bcf storage facility, comprised of four salt caverns, to be located in Pinal County, AZ. The in-service date of the first cavern is scheduled for 2013. The proposed facility will include related compression and treatment, as well as a pipeline lateral. Services offered from the facility would include both firm storage service and no-notice transportation service. EPNG anticipates developing the project under 15-year firm contracts at maximum recourse rates for the full four-cavern project. The open season will close at 4 p.m. MST on Dec. 5. To obtain precedent agreements and offer sheets, contact Craig Coombs at (719) 520-4387, Tom Dobson at (719) 520-4606 or Greg Gettman at (719) 520-4533. Detailed information about the open season is available on EPNG's website at under "Informational Postings." In April 2006 FERC cited the scarcity of storage in the Southwest in granting EPNG a waiver of the Natural Gas Act certificate requirements to carry out drilling and testing activities to determine the feasibility of developing storage facilities in south-central Arizona (see NGI, April 10, 2006). The El Paso Corp.-owned pipeline petitioned for the exemption so it could drill a test well on a 234-acre parcel of land in Pinal County that it purchased to develop a storage facility.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP has completed a $23 million expansion of its Kinder Morgan Interstate Gas Transmission (KMIGT) pipeline to serve five new plants near Grand Island, NE, four of which will produce ethanol. The expansion increases capacity on KMIGT by 22,000 Dth/d and is fully subscribed through long-term contracts. The project includes approximately eight miles of 12-inch diameter pipeline north of Grand Island and 17 miles of 16-inch diameter pipeline south of the area. In addition to this project, KMIGT has connected 17 new ethanol plants to the pipeline since 2000, of which 11 are in Nebraska. KMIGT owns approximately 5,100 miles of transmission lines in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, and the Huntsman natural gas storage facility in Cheyenne County, NE, which has approximately 10 Bcf of firm capacity commitments and provides for withdrawal of up to 169 MMcf/d.

Secure Energy Inc. has made a firm transportation service agreement with Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America (NGPL) to ship up to 67,000 MMBtu/d of natural gas on the NGPL pipeline beginning Aug. 1, 2011 from Secure's Decatur, IL, Gasification Plant, the company said. Preliminary construction of the coal gasification plant is under way and Secure Energy plans to construct a 14-mile pipeline to interconnect with NGPL in Piatt County, IL. The Decatur plant will convert approximately 1.4 million tons of high-sulfur Illinois coal into more than 20 Bcf of natural gas each year. "At a time when pipeline capacity is becoming scarce, completing this agreement ensures that the Secure Energy Decatur Gasification Plant will be able to deliver its gas to both Illinois and Chicago area markets," said Jack Kenny, co-founder of Secure Energy. The plant will convert coal to pipeline-quality synthetic natural gas. Plant construction cost is estimated to be $550 million. It is expected to be in operation in summer 2011.

Devon Energy Corp. has acquired a 44% stake in Chevron Corp.'s leasehold in the Drunkard's Wash coalbed methane natural gas field in east-central Utah. The field, which has about 51,000 net acres, is being developed jointly by Chevron, ConocoPhillips and XTO Energy Corp.; current net output is 40 MMcfe/d. For the stake, Devon transferred back to Chevron around 14.2 million shares of Chevron common stock, which it has held since acquiring PennzEnergy in 1999. In exchange, Devon received a stake in the field and $280 million in cash from Chevron. In August Devon retired exchangeable debentures issued by PennzEnergy that were associated with the Chevron shares, which enabled Devon to make the exchange transaction.

FERC gave Bobcat Gas Storage the green light to place into service a cavern at its salt dome natural gas storage project in St. Landry Parish, LA. The Sugar Land, TX-based storage developer said it planned to have 6 Bcf of total storage capacity in Cavern No. 1 at start-up, expandable to 7.8 Bcf in the near term. It reported it currently is leaching Cavern No. 2 and expects to have leached enough cavern space to provide storage service from the second cavern by no later than Nov. 1, 2009. The high-deliverability project is sited near Eunice, LA, and the Henry Hub, two of the top trading centers in the Gulf Coast region. The storage facility is being developed by Port Barre Investments LLC and its financial sponsor, Haddington Energy Partners III LLC, a private equity fund that provides capital to develop energy infrastructure with a focus on gas storage, gathering and processing.

Woodside Natural Gas' liquefied natural gas (LNG) project offshore Southern California remains at least two months away from completing a global lifecycle assessment of its greenhouse gas (GHG) impact, a spokesperson said. Pending implementation work on the state's GHG emissions rules is needed by the developer of the ship-to-ship transfer and regasification project 28 miles offshore. In March the ongoing environmental review of the project was suspended by the U.S. Coast Guard, pending the completion of GHG lifecycle assessment. Santa Monica, CA-based Woodside said it needs the added detail on what the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will be requiring in terms of GHG reductions and credits for meeting requirements that won't be fully effective until 2012. UK-based Worley Parsons and the global environmental firm AECOM, ENSR are helping complete the lifecycle analysis, which the company hopes will get the Coast Guard environmental work restarted.

FERC granted Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC's request to place into service the remaining facilities of its Millennium Pipeline-related Ramapo Expansion, which includes a new compressor station in Oxford, CT; replacement of approximately five miles of natural gas pipeline in Ramapo, NY; new turbine compressor units at three existing stations in New York and New Jersey; and upgrades to other existing facilities. The expansion facilities will deliver 325,000 Dth/d to KeySpan Energy and Con Edison of New York via the Millennium Pipeline, which is due to go into operation this month. Millennium will transport up to 525,400 Dth/d when it goes in service more than a decade after it was first announced and eight years after it was initially proposed to open.

A former El Paso Corp. natural gas trader was sentenced to 10 months in prison for reporting bogus trades to industry newsletters in order to affect the price of natural gas, federal prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore for the Southern District of Texas also sentenced Donald Burwell of Richardson, TX, to a three-year term of supervised release following his 10-month stint in prison. In February 2006 Burwell pleaded guilty in a Houston district court to violating a provision of the Commodity Exchange Act for his involvement in providing fictitious trading information to Platts' Inside FERC Gas Market Report (see NGI, March 6, 2006). Burwell, 47, agreed to cooperate with the government in similar cases. He pleaded guilty to "knowingly" transmitting "inaccurate reports concerning market information about natural gas trades that affected or tended to affect the price of natural gas, a commodity in interstate commerce." Burwell faced up to five years in prison without parole and a $500,000 fine. Burwell originally was indicted in November 2004 and charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of false reporting and one count of wire fraud (see NGI, Dec. 6, 2004). But in August 2005 a Houston grand jury returned a superseding indictment that included new charges of false price reporting and wire fraud. The superseding indictment incorporated the original charges and added two counts of false reporting and two counts of wire fraud for allegedly transmitting false trade reports in August 2000 and October 2000. If convicted, he would have faced substantially more prison time and heavier penalties under the superseding indictment. The charges against Burwell were the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John R. Lewis and Belinda Beek of the Southern District of Texas.

Iroquois Gas Transmission System LP received FERC authorization to place into service its Millennium Pipeline-related MarketAccess Project, which includes a new Brookfield Compressor Station in Brookfield, CT, and new coolers and related facilities at the existing Dover Compressor Station in Dover, NY. The new facilities will enable Iroquois to provide 100,000 Dth/d of firm natural gas transportation service to Con Ed of New York.

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