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Suspended NW Pipe Addition Back on Track

February 16, 2009
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Williams' Northwest Pipeline Co.'s proposed 178-mile pipeline paralleling an existing east-west line from the Columbia River Gorge across the northern side of the Columbia River in Washington state is getting back on track, a spokesperson told NGI. Company officials are to meet later this month with FERC staff to review pre-filing details. A formal filing is expected by fall.

Williams and Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the utility subsidiary of Puget Energy, held an open season last spring to test shipper interest in the proposed Blue Bridge Pipeline, which would provide Pacific Northwest markets with increased access to Rocky Mountain and Canadian gas supplies at Stanfield, OR. As the anchor shipper, PSE last fall convinced Northwest to suspend work on the pipeline proposal, the Williams spokesperson said.

Following the pre-filing meeting with federal regulatory staff, Northwest plans to hold a series of open houses in the five counties that the proposed pipeline would cross. Field work on the Blue Bridge project was stopped last November, but representatives of the interstate pipeline told news media that on Tuesday Northwest will ask Clark County, WA, officials for permission to survey a possible route through the county's Camp Bonneville.

This proposed pipeline addition is separate from Northwest's joint venture proposal for bringing more Rockies supplies westward to Stanfield in the Sunstone Pipeline project, announced last March as a 585-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline that would come on-line in 2011 through the efforts of Northwest, TransCanada and a unit of San Diego-based Sempra Energy.

Blue Bridge also would bring more Rockies supplies west, but more specifically for the Pacific Northwest. Sunstone supplies can go to California and Nevada, in addition to the Pacific Northwest through Blue Bridge and other existing pipelines.

Northwest is considering a combination of 36- and 30-inch diameter segments in Blue Bridge, the spokesperson said. Blue Bridge would be operated as part of Williams' Northwest Pipeline system, with service provided under Northwest's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-authorized gas tariff. PSE would be an anchor shipper on the pipeline and could become an equity investor in the project, said Tulsa-based Williams when it held the open season last year.

The Blue Bridge project also would require installation of additional compression horsepower at Northwest's existing compressor stations at Plymouth, Washougal and Chehalis,WA.

As originally proposed last year, the project would offer capacity of up to 500,000 Dth/d, and the majority of the Blue Bridge route would follow Northwest's existing pipeline corridor.

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