FERC OKs Changes to Northwest, Sierra Production Pipe Projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given Northwest Pipeline Corp. and Sierra Production Co. green lights to make changes to their previously certificated pipeline expansion projects in the Pacific Northwest and at the U.S.-Canadian border, respectively.

In an order voted out last week but not made public until Wednesday, the Commission said Northwest Pipeline could make various changes to its Evergreen Expansion project in Washington state -- reducing the amount of compression to be added by 3,520 horsepower and lowering part of its existing mainline facilities when it installs the expansion's 36-inch Auburn Loop [CP02-4-002].

The changes will not alter the original size of the project, which FERC approved last June. The Evergreen expansion will increase Northwest's south-flow capacity between Sumas and Chehalis, WA, (the Sumas-Chehalis Corridor) by 220,514 Dth/d to help meet the long-term firm contract demand of 276,625 Dth/d from new power generators. Capacity turned back by Westcoast Gas Services Inc. will make up the difference of 56,111 Dth/d.

The $241 million expansion also seeks to boost Northwest's north-flow capacity between Washougal and Plymouth, WA (the Columbia Gorge Corridor) by 57,000 Dth/d to reduce shippers' dependence on displaced capacity. Both corridors are considered the most constrained portions of the Northwest system, and have caused the pipeline to resort to operational flow orders to manage its gas flows.

Northwest said it has revised its construction schedule for the Sumas-Chehalis portion of the expansion, with the additional compression facilities to be in place by July 1 of this year and 27 miles of 36-inch pipeline looping to be completed by Oct. 1. It noted that its target completion date for the Columbia Gorge facilities still is Nov. 1.

Separately, Sierra Production received authorization to increase the capacity of pipeline crossing facilities at the Montana-Canadian border to 12 MMcf/d from the originally certificated 5 MMcf/d.

In its initial application, which was filed last December, Sierra Production sought permission to build the crossing facilities to import natural gas from its well in southern Alberta into Montana. Since then, however, it said it has received requests from other producers in the vicinity of its well to transport their respective gas production to Toole County, MT.

"Approval of Sierra's proposal would provide needed gas supplies into Montana, add to Canadian resource development, and benefit the public and businesses in the area," the order said [CP01-416-001].

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