FERC has issued a favorable environmental assessment of National Fuel Gas Supply Corp.'s Northern Access Project and Tennessee Gas Pipeline's 230C Project, both of which would provide for the bidirectional flow of 320,000 Dth/d of Marcellus Shale gas to the system of TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. at Niagara, NY.

"The approval of the proposed projects, with appropriate mitigating measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment," Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff said of the National Fuel and Tennessee projects [CP:11-128, CP11-133].

National Fuel said it proposed the Northern Access Project in response to a request for firm transportation of 320,000 Dth/d of Marcellus Shale production from an existing interconnection with Tennessee at its existing Ellisburg Compressor Station in Potter County, PA, to the facilities of TransCanada at Niagara.

National Fuel proposes to modify the jointly owned Niagara Spur Loop Line (NSLL) to allow for bidirectional flow of natural gas. The 49-mile, 30-inch diameter line extends from the U.S. Canadian border at Niagara to East Aurora, NY, and is owned by National Fuel, Tennessee and Dominion Transmission Inc.

The National Fuel project calls for the construction of a new compressor station totaling about 4,740 hp in Erie County, NY (East Aurora Compressor Station); piping changes at the Concord Compressor Station in Erie County to permit bidirectional flow; and the installation of two additional compressor units at the existing Ellisburg Compressor Station totaling about 9,470 hp.

As for Tennessee's project, the El Paso Corp.-owned pipeline proposes several facility modifications at its existing Station 230C Compressor Station in Niagara County: installation of new Solar Centaur natural gas-fired turbines for compressor units A2 and A3, and restaging of centrifugal compressors for units A2, A3 and A4 for bidirectional flow; new station cooling equipment and discharge flow check meters and check valves along the existing 20- and 30-inch diameter NSLL pipelines; and modification to station piping and automation systems.

The cost of the Northern Access Project and National Fuel's portion of the Station 230C Project is approximately $59.9 million, according to the company. National Fuel said it hopes to place the project in service by Sept. 1, 2012.