National Fuel Gas Co. subsidiary Empire Pipeline has placed in service Empire Connector, one of five projects that make up the Northeast Project, and the much-anticipated Millennium Pipeline, which had been set to go into service last week (see NGI, Dec. 1), was instead scheduled to go into service Monday (Dec. 22).
The latest delay came as Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC finished "dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's," said spokesman Mike Armiak.
"There's no crisis that's causing the delay,"Armiak said. "It's just the usual last minute stuff." On Friday Millennium notified FERC that its gas tariff should be made effective on Monday.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved a contingency plan filed by Millennium that would allow the pipeline to begin operation this month even if the pipeline's East Branch horizontal directional drill (HDD) was not completed in time to meet Millennium's in-service date (see NGI, Dec. 8). Millennium had said it incurred "significant delays" in attempting to complete the HDD at the East Branch of the Delaware River in Hancock, NY.
In late November Millennium said its 182-mile, 30-inch diameter gas pipeline across New York's Southern Tier and lower Hudson Valley, which was proposed more than a decade ago, would be fully operational by Dec. 15. At that time Millennium said gas was flowing in portions of pipeline in Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties on behalf of Columbia Gas Transmission (CGT) under an arrangement necessitated by the "lift and lay" construction method used on the eastern segments of the pipeline.
FERC recently authorized CGT to begin service on portions of the Millennium Pipeline -- an 18.5-mile segment in Steuben and Chemung counties, between the Corning Compressor Station at milepost 190.6 and the mainline valve MLV 1011 at milepost 209.1 (see NGI, Nov. 24); and a 76.6-mile segment between mileposts 209.1 and 285.7 in Chemung, Tioga, Broome and Delaware counties.
Construction of the Empire pipeline was completed earlier this month and FERC gave Empire the green light to begin service on the 77-mile, 24-inch diameter connector that extends from near the terminus of Empire's exiting 157-mile pipeline outside Rochester, NY, and runs south to Corning, NY, where it ties in with Millennium. Certain weather-dependent restoration activities will continue for some time, according to National Fuel.
The Empire Connector project expanded the 157-mile long Empire State Pipeline at an estimated cost of approximately $187 million. A 20,000 hp built at the Oakfield, NY, compressor station increased the pipeline's ability to deliver gas along the expanded pipeline.
The Empire Connector project will transport 250,000 Dth/d and provide customers with access to supplies at the Dawn Hub in Ontario through Empire State Pipeline's connection with TransCanada PipeLine's system at the Chippewa Channel of the Niagara River. FERC gave the go-ahead for Empire Connector as part of an order in December 2006 approving the mega-Northeast Project (see NGI, Dec. 25, 2006). The Empire State line originates at the United States-Canada border near Buffalo, NY.
Millennium, which will transport up to 525,400 Dth/d when it goes into service, is the centerpiece of a $1 billion investment in new energy infrastructure that includes new facilities by Empire State Pipeline, Algonquin Gas Transmission and Iroquois Gas Transmission. The pipeline is anchored by National Grid, Consolidated Edison of New York, Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. and Columbia. Millennium is owned by affiliates of NiSource Inc., National Grid and DTE Energy.
The bidirectional pipeline will directly or indirectly serve markets in New York, New Jersey and New England. Western New York gas storage and production can be accessed directly through Millennium, and Canadian gas can be delivered through interconnections with Empire State Pipeline and National Fuel Gas Supply.
The mega-project is an alternative to the 442-mile, 700 MMcf/d Millennium Pipeline project that FERC approved in September 2002 (see NGI, Sept. 23, 2002). That project never got off the ground because it was blocked from crossing the Hudson River by New York state, which ruled Millennium to be inconsistent with the state's authority under the Coastal Zone Management Act. The project was declared dead in the water when former Commerce Department Secretary Donald Evans upheld New York's position in a December 2003 ruling (see NGI, Dec. 22, 2003).
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