Southern Crossing Pipe Begins BC Service Against Odds

Southern Crossing Pipeline, first proposed in April 1998, took the long way home, but made it in time for 2000 winter service. BC Gas, the owner and operator of the Canadian line, announced that its 188-mile natural gas pipeline began service in Southern British Columbia.

"It's the culmination of five years of planning and six months of construction," said Bill Manery, project director. The company said the pipeline was the largest capital project in BC Gas' histroy.

The C$376 million Southern Crossing Pipeline is now flowing parallel to the existing BC Gas mainline and the U.S. border between Yahk and Oliver after beginning construction this summer. The project is intended to serve growth in the BC Lower Mainland peak and seasonal demand with 250 MMcf/d of capacity and room for expansion to 600 MMcf/d. The line links to the BC Gas mainline, which connects to the north-south Westcoast Energy pipeline running between British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest.

The pipeline was first voted down in April 1998 by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), which said the projected growth in demand from residential and commercial customers alone on the BC Gas system was not sufficient to justify the large capital expenditure at the time (see NGI, April 13, 1998).

BC Gas revived the project in July 1998, saying its open season had brought interest exceeding proposed capacity. It refiled with the BCUC in December 1998 with firm agreements for capacity from BC Hydro and PG&E Energy Trading Canada (see NGI, Dec. 14, 1998). With firm shippers signed on, the commission gave a green light to the pipeline in May 1999 (see NGI, May 31, 1999).

"The pipeline will enhance BC Gas' ability to serve a growing demand for natural gas in British Columbia by providing access to competitive sources of natural gas," said Randy Jespersen, senior vice president of BC Gas' Energy Delivery Services. "Greater security of supply and future cost savings are the ultimate consumer benefits of the pipeline."

Alex Steis

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