Noble to Manage Gas for $2.2B Merchant Plants

Expanding its current fuel management role to merchant power plants, Houston-based Noble Affiliates Inc.'s subsidiary, Noble Gas Marketing, plans to manage the fuel needs of two of the largest merchant power plants in the country with a combined capacity of 4,400 MW. The natural gas-fired power plants are being constructed by Panda Energy International and TECO Power Services. Noble will procure fuel for the Union Power Station in El Dorado, AR, and the Gila River Power Station in Gila Bend, AZ.

Under the agreement, Noble will manage transportation, nominations, scheduling and balancing and overall capacity management. It will also assist in gas acquisition, excess gas sales, transportation capacity acquisition and storage acquisition. Terms of the value and length of the agreement were not disclosed.

The long-awaited El Dorado plant is expected to begin commercial operation in 2002. Capacity from the plant is expected to serve wholesale customers throughout Arkansas and Louisiana, along with portions of Mississippi and Texas. The companies also reported that the plant will be able to sell power into Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois.

The Gila facility will follow with a commercial operation timeframe of 2003. Power will be sold from the plant throughout Arizona with excess energy marketed to wholesale customers in California, Nevada and New Mexico. Combined, the power plants will cost approximately $2.2 billion to build.

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