PG&E Northwest Starts Open Season

With its system running full through most of last year, PG&E Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) doesn't need to read the tea leaves to determine it's time to expand. The pipeline announced an open season beginning yesterday for a 200 MMcf/d capacity expansion.

The new throughput, targeted for deliveries Nov. 1, 2002, is part of a five-year expansion program outlined by the pipeline last week to add to the 2.7 Bcf/d of Canadian gas GTN currently carries into the Pacific Northwest from the Canadian border to the California border (see Daily GPI, Dec. 21, 2000).

The expansion is expected to include compression and some looping on the 612-mile system. The open season ends Feb. 15, after which there will be a capacity rationalization period, which will allow existing shippers to release capacity directly to customers who have expressed an interest. Contracts for the new pipeline capacity will be finalized by March 31.

"Tight gas supplies in the West this winter indicate a need for additional pipeline capacity," said Peter G. Lund, vice president for the PG&E National Energy Group West Region, which includes GTN. "We are targeting a Nov. 1, 2002 in-service date for this capacity addition. But if we are able to complete the FERC process sooner than is now anticipated, we will be in a position to begin construction early, so that the new capacity can be in service sooner." Lund said GTN has submitted a request to TransCanada PipeLines for upstream capacity to serve expansion customers.

The California situation, including new power generation load coming on, is causing GTN to accelerate its expansion schedule. For the next five to eight years, PG&E Corp. expects to be busy with pipeline expansions and new additions. If a gas pipeline is built from Alaska south into Canada, there could be further expansions by PG&E National Energy Group to transport the supplies into the lower 48.

"Overall what we are looking at is the potential to expand the system by 1 Bcf/d over the next decade," said Sandra McDonough, spokeswoman for PG&E Corp.

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