BC Gas Holds Open Season on Pipe Expansion

In an effort to help meet the growing demands for natural gas in British Columbia and in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, BC Gas Utility Ltd. said it is actively pursuing a plan to build the Inland Pacific Connector, an expansion of the company's Southern Crossing Pipeline. Southern Crossing began service in late November 2000 (see NGI, Dec. 11, 2000).

The company said it will be seeking shippers with interest in capacity on the project throughout the month of April. The 161-mile proposed expansion pipeline would travel from the Southern Crossing Pipeline down to Huntingdon, BC. The project is estimated to cost C$460 million, and could have an in-service date as early as late 2003.

"What we are really building it for is to address the capacity issue in this area," said Donna McGeachie, a BC Gas spokeswoman. "Pipeline capacity is very restrained; there just isn't enough pipe to meet the demand for all the gas. So we will address that problem by increasing capacity for the whole region."

Additional capacity into southern BC and the U.S. Northwest "is clearly required to meet rising demands for natural gas, particularly from gas-fired power plants," the company said. The company pointed out that the expansion of an existing pipeline would also be more cost effective than creating a new pipeline altogether.

The company also pointed out that new capacity and supply diversity would help alleviate some of the high gas costs that some natural gas customers in BC are currently experiencing. BC Gas said it will decide on the future of the expansion project pending the results of the open season at the end of April.

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