Williams Delays, Phases In MarketLink

Williams has filed an amendment with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting authorization to phase construction of Transco pipeline's MarketLink project over four years to satisfy requests by the project shippers.

Rather than the Nov. 1, 2001 in-service date for 700 MMcf/d of deliveries into the Northeast market, Williams' Transco is proposing a multi-stage project, including Phase I by Nov. 1, 2001 and Phase II by Nov. 1, 2002, for a total of about 296 MMcf/d at a cost of $242 million. The remainder of the project will be further phased in as shippers firm up agreements. Williams expects the entire 700 MMcf/d to be in service by Nov. 1, 2004.

In its amendment filing (CP98-540-003) Williams pointed to delays in siting and certification for new power generation customers, plus ownership transfers. It did not mention delays in its own FERC certification due to protests by citizen groups and the state of New Jersey. The state has filed a court suit to stop the project (see Daily GPI, June 23). Nor did it mention delays in certification of the Independence and SupplyLink pipeline projects, which FERC considered all part of one integrated system from Chicago to the Northeast. Independence has received its certificate but still is subject to rehearing (see Daily GPI, July 14). Transco said MarketLink is not dependent on the other projects.

"The proposed phasing of construction will enable Williams to construct facilities necessary to meet the timing requirements of the market. Williams will file to construct additional phases of the project as shippers finalize their arrangements," said Gary Lauderdale, senior vice president and general manager, Williams' Transco pipeline system. "This filing clearly demonstrates strong market support for the project."

In the amendment, Williams filed firm service agreements with seven shippers including Aquila Energy Marketing for 25,000 Dth/d; Consolidated Edison for 30,000 Dth/d; ConEdison Energy for 10,000 Dth/d; St. Lawrence Cement for 1,000 Dth/d; and Williams Energy Marketing & Trading for 100,000 Dth/d for a total of 166,000 Dth/d for Phase I.

Phase II includes 100,000 Dth/d for Virginia Power Energy Marketing, and 30,000 Dth/d for PPL EnergyPlus. Transco said construction of the Phase I and Phase II facilities will not involve construction or impacts to any New Jersey Green Acres properties, which had been part of the landowner disputes. The company said it has reached agreement with about 74% of the landowners required to construct Phase I and about 70% of landowners for Phase II. The company has received all permits and clearances necessary from Pennsylvania and is awaiting action on those from New Jersey.

Phases I and II of the project will require construction of 30 miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania and 30 miles in New Jersey. Construction is expected to occur either parallel to or entirely within existing utility corridors. Construction of Phase 1 is scheduled to begin in April 2001 at a cost of $123 million. The estimated cost of Phase 2 facilities is $119 million.

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