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FERC OKs Northern Natural Expansion in Midwest

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday issued a certificate to Northern Natural Gas to construct a pipeline and compression expansion in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The project calls for the MidAmerican Energy pipeline subsidiary to build a 30-inch diameter extension from the end of its existing 30-inch diameter C-line, parallel to the existing 20-inch B-line on Northern Natural's East Leg, as well as install cross-over and associated facilities to enable the pipeline to provide 675 pounds per square inch (psig) of operating pressure at its Bluff Creek Interconnect, as requested by shipper Wisconsin Gas LLC.

The expansion would allow Northern Natural to deliver Wisconsin Gas' future entitlement at Bluff Creek, which will rise from 39,600 Dth/d to 66,987 Dth/d after the first year, the pipeline said. Northern Natural said the facilities also would clear the way for it to provide more flexibility and reliability to shippers upstream of the Bluff Creek Interconnect.

Northern Natural also plans to install a refurbished 2,500 horsepower electrically power compressor at its Chatfield Compressor Station in Filmore County, MN, to accommodate a request by Wisconsin Gas to increase capacity on the pipeline's Tomah Branchline. Northern Natural noted that Tomah currently is constrained and is restricting its opportunities to serve market growth in the area.

Northern Natural estimated that the cost of construction will be $7.7 million, and requested FERC permission to roll the cost into rates of existing shippers. "Because the proposal will not be subsidized by Northern's existing shippers...Northern may roll in the costs of the proposal in its next rate case, absent a significant change in circumstances," the order said [CP05-49].

Northern Natural operates a 16,500-mile interstate gas pipeline system extending from the Permian Basin in Texas to the upper Midwest. The pipeline has the ability to deliver 4.5 Bcf/d of gas into market areas at peak times. Northern Natural has five storage facilities with capacity of 59 Bcf, including 4 Bcf of liquefied natural gas.

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