Maritimes, Algonquin Cross Environmental Hurdle for HubLine

Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline last week received a favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) from FERC for its Phase III extension in Massachusetts and affiliate Algonquin Gas Transmission also received a favorable DEIS on the related offshore HubLine project. The projects include construction of 25 miles (Maritimes) of 30-inch pipe onshore from Methuen to Beverly, MA, 30 miles of 24-inch pipe offshore (Algonquin) from Beverly to Weymouth, MA, and five miles of 16-inch lateral pipe offshore to a wastewater treatment plant owned by Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) on Deer Island, MA.

Maritimes' $134 million Phase III extension would make 360,000 Dth/d of new firm capacity available to its customers to serve markets on the east end of Algonquin's system, and Algonquin's HubLine project, which has a projected cost of $159 million, would provide 300,500 Dth/d of additional delivery capacity. The two projects, which are designed to supply gas-starved New England, are targeted for service by November 2002. The MWRA has signed only a letter of intent for capacity, while four other potential shippers -- Southern Connecticut Gas, Providence Gas, Southern Energy Kendall LLC and Sithe Power Marketing LP -- have executed long-term precedent agreements for a combined 195,500 Dth/d on Algonquin's HubLine.

FERC staff said with the mitigation proposed by Maritimes and Algonquin as well as the measures recommended by FERC, "construction and operation of the proposed facilities would have limited adverse environmental impact." The report cited several reasons for the decision:

  • 70% of the Phase III facilities would overlap or run adjacent to existing utility or road corridors;
  • the companies' environmental inspection and mitigation monitoring programs would ensure compliance with mitigation measures; and
  • horizontal directional drills would be used to construct the landfall portions of undersea pipelines and to cross one potentially sensitive area near shore.

FERC determined that no supply or transportation alternatives were capable of serving the same purpose and need. "The proposed routes were developed following careful review of current land uses, sensitive environmental areas, undersea terrain and other significant resources," said Tom O'Connor, president of M&N Management Co., the managing member of Maritimes. "In addition, we met with and continue to listen to landowners, public officials, environmental organizations, citizen groups, and others who may be affected by the project... The issuance of this Draft Environmental Impact Statement is a major step forward for these projects and, coupled with strong market support, will move us closer to our in-service date."

FERC will hold one or more public meetings to receive comments on the DEIS prior to issuing a final environmental impact statement. In April, FERC issued favorable preliminary determinations on non-environmental issues for both projects (see NGI, April 16) . The preliminary determinations concluded that the public convenience and necessity requires the construction and operation of these new gas pipeline facilities in eastern Massachusetts.

The projects will deliver new energy supplies to local distribution companies and industrial customers, especially the new, efficient electric generating stations fueled by natural gas and the older plants that are switching to the cleaner-burning energy source.

Maritimes transports natural gas from the Sable project located off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, to energy markets in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States. Algonquin operates more than 1,000 miles of interstate pipeline system serving customers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"Interconnecting the Maritimes and Algonquin systems just makes sense," O'Connor said. "The new pipeline infrastructure will provide the region with greater fuel diversity along with a more economical and reliable energy system. We'll have access to new resources being developed offshore Nova Scotia as well as to supplies from the U.S. Gulf Coast and Western Canada."

Maritimes is owned by affiliates of Duke Energy (37.5%); Westcoast Energy, Inc. (37.5%); ExxonMobil (12.5%); and Emera Inc. (12.5%). Algonquin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke Energy.

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