With forecasts for Marcellus shale production to equal or exceed the 8.3 Bcf/d current total of all natural gas delivered to eastern markets by 2020, pipeline operators serving the area have a smorgasbord of plans for expanded lines to eastern markets, including eastern Canada, according to pipeline panelists at a recent Pennsylvania producers meeting.

By 2020 estimates are the Marcellus shale could be producing between 10-20 Bcf/d, Greg Maliken, with National Fuel Gas Co. (NFG) said at the Eastern Oil & Gas Conference and Trade show. NFG's transmission subsidiaries, National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. and Empire Pipeline Inc., are working on a number of plans to handle the increased gas flow through their territory in western New York and western Pennsylvania.

Two of those projects involve installing bidirectional meters and reversing flow on some of its lines now functioning to carry Canadian imports south.

"Marcellus has changed everything," Maliken told attendees at the conference, which was hosted by the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association.

Currently in the works is the Northern Access expansion of National Fuel Gas Supply, which will transport 320 MMcf/d of Marcellus gas to connections with TransCanada Pipeline near Lewiston, NY (see NGI, May 3). Statoil has signed on for 100% of the capacity on the line, which is targeted for completion in June 2012. The project involves changes to the jointly owned Niagara Spur & Loop Line operated by Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

In the meantime, Empire Pipeline filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late last month for its Tioga County Extension Project in response to requests for the firm transportation of 350 MMcf/d of Marcellus Shale production from Tioga County, PA, to TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. at Chippawa, ON near Niagara Falls (CP-10-493).

The Tioga project, expected to be completed in November 2011, includes approximately 15 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline from Empire's system at its interconnection with the facilities of Millennium Pipeline Co. LP in Corning, NY, to two new producer interconnections in Tioga County, and a new interconnection with Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Hopewell, NY, which will create an on-the-path secondary point for the project shippers and other shippers with capacity on the Empire Connector pipeline.

When the expansion is completed Empire will have firm contracted capacity of more than 500 MMcf/d with 150 MMcf/d headed south and 350 MMcf/d going north from Tioga County, PA. East Resources Inc., which is being acquired by Royal Dutch Shell plc, and Talisman Energy Inc. have signed firm contracts and the capacity is fully subscribed.

"Imports from Niagara and Chippawa have slowed so much," Maliken said, adding that without the bidirectional function the only way Marcellus gas can supply eastern Canadian points through NFG's system is through displacement.

Producers at the conference were commenting on the novelty of exporting gas to Canada, and also on the fact that the arrival of gas from the new large diameter Rockies Express (REX) Pipeline from the Rockies had not proved to be the "armageddon" they had feared. Josh Eakle with Dominion Transmission, which also has a number of Marcellus-area expansion projects in the works, explained that part of the "REX hysteria" had been sparked by the fear that its Clarington, OH connection would be flooded with REX gas, creating bottlenecks and shut-ins of Appalachian gas.

However, instead of the 500 MMcf/d of REX gas expected at Clarington, approximately 700-800 MMcf/d had been balanced among Dominion's three receipt points that pick up western gas, including also Lebanon and Noble, OH. Also, conventional West Virginia supplies have not grown as had been expected, which opened up some capacity, Eakle said.

Dominion has four infrastructure projects in the works to move gas north and east from West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania to be completed by November 2012, with others beyond that date in the planning stage. One 2012 project would provide 150 MMcf/d of capacity to unload gas from Tennessee Gas Pipeline's 300 line at Ellisburg, PA, taking it north to Tennessee's 200 line at Craigs, NY (see NGI, Aug. 16) to access New England markets.

The largest Dominion project, the Appalachian Gateway, involves 110 miles of pipe from West Virginia to storage fields at the Oakford facility in Delmont, PA. It will have a capacity of 484 MMcf/d. Dominion's Marcellus Northeast project will provide up to 200 MMcf/d of capacity from Oakford to Leidy, PA.

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