Kern River Expansion Completed

Kern River Gas Transmission announced last Monday it had completed construction and was flowing gas through emergency expansion facilities on its Kern River natural gas transmission system. The expansion, which consisted mostly of adding compression, increased delivery capacity of the Wyoming to California pipeline by 135,000 Dth/d.

The expansion had the distinction of being one of the fastest on record. Williams had filed a certificate application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 15.

"We received FERC approval within three weeks of filing--an unprecedented turnaround. This allowed us to expedite the construction process and bring additional supplies of natural gas to the California market," said Kirk Morgan, director of business development for Kern River. "We anticipate most of the new natural gas will go directly to power generation facilities." The Commission approved the project over objections from several parties that the extra deliveries would simply replace supplies already scheduled through the Wheeler Ridge delivery point since the Southern California Gas pipeline connection at the point is already constrained.

"Our emphasis is on Kern River being able to provide sufficient delivery point capacity for its customers," the FERC order said. "The solution to the problem of pro-rata allocations of any services at Wheeler Ridge lies not with the interstate pipelines, but rather in fixing the problem with the take-away capacity and the lack of firm transportation path rights on SoCalGas, a matter which is beyond our jurisdiction." (see NGI, April 9).

The emergency expansion project added two new compressor stations in Utah and one in California, as well as upgraded compressor units at three existing compressor stations in Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. The installation of these facilities increased the transportation capacity on Kern River by approximately 19%. Williams completed the multimillion dollar project more than three weeks ahead of schedule.

"The extraordinary effort put forth by our contractors, employees and permitting agencies resulted in a successful completion of the project ahead of schedule," stated Micheal Dunn, manager of project management for Kern River.

The expansion was aimed at increasing the aggregate primary firm delivery rights of Kern River shippers at Wheeler Ridge to about 527 MMcf/d from 450 MMcf/d At the same time, the design delivery capacity at the Wheeler Ridge Meter Station was increased to about 800 MMcf/d from 598 MMcf/d to accommodate existing shippers, new expansion shippers and Mojave Pipeline shippers..

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