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TransCanada to Consolidate Pathfinder, Bison Pipe Projects

TransCanada Corp. said Thursday it has decided to merge its larger Pathfinder Pipeline project into its Bison Pipeline project, which would provide additional capacity to deliver Rocky Mountain natural gas to Midwest markets.

"TransCanada has elected to consolidate the Pathfinder project into the Bison project and will pursue all future east-bound Rockies development using the Bison footprint. Bison is expandable to 1 Bcf/d...And any future development plans [such as] extending south into the Rockies, along the former Pathfinder route, will be referred to as the Bison Extension," said TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha. Talk of a possible Pathfinder and Bison combination first arose last September (see NGI, Sept. 8, 2008).

Bison Pipeline LLC (Bison) recently filed an application at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The proposed pipeline would have the capacity to initially transport 477 MMcf/d, expandable to 1 Bcf/d, from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. The 302-mile, 30-inch diameter line would extend northeastward from the Dead Horse region near Gillette, WY, across the southeastern corner of Montana and into southwestern North Dakota where it would interconnect with the pipeline system of Northern Border Pipeline Co. near its Compressor Station No. 6 in Morton County, ND. The cost of the project is estimated at $609.6 million [CP09-161].

The project, with its direct connection to Northern Border, would provide a new northbound route out of the the entire Rocky Mountain production region to the growing Midwest market, according to Bison. The pipeline has asked the Commission to issue a certificate by Feb. 20, 2010 so it can place the facilities in service by Nov. 15 of that year.

Pathfinder was originally proposed as a 625-mile, 36- and 42-inch diameter interstate pipeline that would transport gas northeast from Meeker, CO, through Montana to the Northern Border system in North Dakota for delivery into the Ventura, IA, and Chicago-area markets. As with Bison, the anticipated in-service date was late 2010.

The proposed Bison pipeline has capacity commitments with four shippers: Anadarko Energy Services Co. (250 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years); Williams Gas Marketing Inc. (100 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years); Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. (51.706 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years) and MidAmerican Energy Co. (5 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years). Anadarko Energy is the project's foundation shipper (see NGI, May 19, 2008).

Even as producers continue to lay down rigs across the country due to low natural gas prices, Bison maintains that the project is designed to serve the expanding production in the Powder River Basin. "Twenty thousand wells have been drilled in this area in the last 10 years and annual additions are projected to be in the range of 2,000 wells per year," Bison said in its application. "Current natural gas production from the Powder River Basin is about 1.5 Bcf/d and supply growth is expected to continue, with production forecasts by 2020 ranging from about 2 Bcf/d to as high as 4 Bcf/d. The coalbed methane potential of the Powder River Basin has been estimated at 18.5 Tcf."

Bison is a limited liability company, and its sole member is TC Continental Pipeline Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp. TransCanada Northern Border Inc., also a TransCanada subsidiary, would be the operator of Bison.

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