FERC Approves Additions to the Gas Grid

Operating on the premise that a little here and a little there adds up to a fully functioning delivery system, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved three expansion projects last Wednesday in the Southeast, Midwest and Northeast.

FERC approved an expansion of Southern LNG's Elba Island, GA receiving terminal from a peak vaporization capacity of 540 MMcf/d to 675 MMcf/d (CP99-579-002). Southern will replace the five existing LNG vaporizers with five state-of-the-art vaporizers. The FERC amendment to its March 16, 2000 recommissioning order was voted out Wednesday, and follows on a preliminary determination issued in February (see NGI, Feb. 26). The terminal is expected to start operations in October. At a recent conference, Pat Pope, vice president of El Paso Energy Services, who directs operations at the facility, said it is expected to handle about 65 cargoes a year, with an initial sendout capacity of 160 Bcf/year, expandable to 246 Bcf/year (see NGI, July 2).

Horizon Pipeline, having received the go-ahead from FERC Wednesday, plans to start construction in late August for a 70-mile line from near Joliet, IL, north to McHenry, IL. A spokesman said Horizon would be finalizing selection of contractors in the next three weeks. The line is expected to be completed next April. It will include 28.5 miles of new 36-inch pipe, the lease of capacity on 42 miles of Kinder Morgan's Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL), and installation of a new 8,900 hp compressor. The addition of compression will expand capacity on Natural's system to accommodate the 380,000 Dth/d Horizon load without displacing current customer service. Horizon received its preliminary determination last September (see NGI, Sept. 18, 2000). Sponsors are NGPL and Nicor Inc., parent of Northern Illinois Gas. Nicor Gas has committed to transporting 300 MMcf/d on the line for a 10-year term. The line will aid in dispersing the 1.325 Bcf/d of additional western Canadian gas that started flowing into the Chicago Hub on the Alliance Pipeline last fall.

Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline received FERC approval Wednesday to put two 8,311 hp backup compressor units in Maine into full-time operation to increase delivery capacity from 360 MMcf/d to 440 MMcf/d. M&NE said its system has been flowing consistently at or near capacity since the summer of 2000, and it has recently attached several new gas-fired electric generation facilities to its pipeline. Boosting capacity will provide additional system reliability and flexibility and eliminate the possibility of system bottlenecks for existing shippers. Maritimes also said it needed the additional takeaway capacity to accommodate expected increases in natural gas production from the Sable Island fields off Nova Scotia. The Commission denied a request for a technical conference from Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), which jointly owns 101 downstream miles of pipe with Maritimes from Westbrook, ME to Dracut, MA. The order said PNGTS and M&NE should address questions involving their joint ownership agreement and the disposition of the additional gas on their joint facilities through the Commission's complaint mechanism or in court.

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