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FGT Mega Expansion Moves Step Closer to Certificate

FERC Friday issued a favorable final environmental review of Florida Gas Transmission's (FGT) proposal to construct 483 miles of pipeline facilities in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to meet expanding natural gas-fired power generation demand in the Sunshine State.

"The Phase VIII expansion project with appropriate mitigating measures, as recommended, would have limited adverse environmental impact and would be an environmentally acceptable action," staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on FGT's Phase VIII Expansion [CP09-17]. The FEIS traditionally is the last step before FERC considers a project certificate.

FGT has asked the Commission to approve the project by Oct. 1. It wants to put the entire expansion in operation by spring 2011.

The Phase VIII project, which would cost an estimated to cost $2.45 billion, calls for the construction of approximately 357.3 miles of pipeline looping of FGT's mainline system in Alabama and Florida; 125.9 miles of greenfield pipeline through north and south-central Florida; acquisition of a 22.7-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline in Martin County, FL, from Florida Power & Light; and installation of about 213,600 hp of mainline compression at eight existing stations and one new compressor station in Highlands County, FL (see NGI, April 20).

FGT, a pipeline subsidiary of Panhandle Energy, also seeks authorization to operate certain existing segments of its system at a greater maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) -- up to 80% of the specified minimum yield strength (SMYS) in Class 1 locations (low population density), 67% of SMYS in Class 2 locations (somewhat higher population density) and 56% SMYS in Class 3 locations (even higher population density). Operating at higher MAOP would eliminate the need to build about 80 miles of additional pipeline needed for the project, FGT said in its application.

At least six shippers -- with FPL as the anchor shipper -- have signed precedent agreements for 731,000 MMBtu/d of the 820,000 MMBtu/d of capacity to be created by the expansion, FGT said at the end of 2008 (see NGI, Nov. 24, 2008). The other shippers are Progress Energy Florida, Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc., Tampa Electric Co., Orlando Utilities Commission and the City of Tallahassee, FL.

The expansion is slated to increase the capacity of FGT's mainline facilities from the Mobile Bay, AL, area to southern Florida to provide additional firm transportation service throughout Florida to meet the state's rising energy demand. The demand for natural gas in Florida increased to 2.4 Bcf/d in 2007 from 1.5 Bcf/d in 2000, FGT said in its application. Power generation accounted for the vast majority of the increase -- 2.1 Bcf/d -- in 2007.

The 5,000-mile FGT system is one of two pipelines serving Florida, with the other being Gulfstream Natural Gas System. It currently delivers about 2.3 Bcf/d from the Gulf of Mexico to the state.

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