Third Western Canada Pipeline Expansion Proposed

Where's that scorecard? It's never around when you need it. By our count there are now three new proposals on the Canadian side to upgrade service through southern British Columbia and into the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Westcoast Energy entered the Northwest expansion lists last week with an announcement of an open season to run through the end of May for more capacity on its Southern Mainline and Westcoast Alberta line to accommodate additional volumes from supply areas in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

The supplies would be directed by Nov. 1, 2003 to "growing market demand in the BC Lower Mainland and the U.S. Pacific Northwest." Westcoast is looking to expand its Southern BC Mainline from Compressor Station 2 to the Huntingdon delivery area (Zone 4) by about 200 MMcf/d and its Westcoast Alberta line from Nova/Gordondale to ABC/Gordondale, westbound by about 100 MMcf/d. The Canadian pipeline said its latest proposal matches the timing of an expansion by Northwest Pipeline, which connects with Westcoast at the border at Sumas/Huntingdon.

The mainline expansion "provides a very cheap expansion going straight south to Sumas. It can be done very quickly and very cheaply because it will loop existing line," said spokesman Robert Foulkes.It will start at the northern end from the T-South junction of various gathering lines, including the line south from the hot Northwest Territories development area. It's also possible the pipeline will look at a later expansion north of Fort St. John to increase the flow from that area. The Gordondale expansion also will bring in additional volumes from Alberta.

"This is in response to very good exploration and production results. Our line has been operating almost full, consistently through the winter," Foulkes said.

Westcoast's proposal came a week after BC Gas Utility Ltd., said it was pursuing a plan to expand its brand-new Southern Crossing Pipeline also to increase pipeline capacity in southern BC and into the U.S. Pacific Northwest at Huntingdon, BC, across the border from Sumas,WA (see NGI, April 9). BC Gas' plan calls for a 161-mile long expansion pipeline, costing about C$460 million. Questioned, Foulkes said he did not consider the BC line a competitor for Westcoast's proposal, since Westcoast would be providing direct service from the north through a less expensive looped line.

TransCanada PipeLine also has announced an expansion of its Nova Gas Transmission system and its B.C. System to its border connection at Kingsgate, B.C./Eastport, ID to match an expansion of PG&E GT Northwest (see NGI, March 26). Following an open season, TransCanada said it would expand its Alberta system by 227 MMcf/d and its BC system by 216 MMcf/d.

For its venture Westcoast is looking for binding commitments for 15 year contracts. For shippers with existing service on the two legs, "relinquishment is being requested and will be considered." Also, "Westcoast is concerned about expiration of existing firm service agreements. Where appropriate, Westcoast may ask shippers to renew service for a mutually agreeable period."

The expansion could increase the toll on the mainline by 1-2 cents (Canadian), and on the Alberta segment by a half a cent (Canadian). For further information go to www.wei-pipeline.com.

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