Dominion Cove Point LNG LP, a transporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Washington Gas Light (WGL), has asked FERC to deny the Washington, DC-based utility's request for an extension of the deadline to provide documents backing up its claim that deliveries from the LNG import terminal were responsible for the costly gas leaks on WGL's distribution system in 2003.

In a March 24 request, FERC staff, citing reports that the utility had experienced substantial compression-related gas leaks in 1999 prior to deliveries from Dominion Cove Point, asked Washington Gas to justify how it "[could] attribute LNG as the sole cause of the spike in leaks in 2003." FERC posed a number of other questions following a February procedural conference, and directed Washington Gas to respond within 10 days (see Daily GPI, March 27).

On Monday, the gas utility requested additional time -- until April 18 -- to reply. "Many of the requested documents are not readily available to Washington Gas, but rather must be procured through a search of physical files (in some cases from periods going back to the 1960s) or electronic files," Washington Gas told FERC.

Dominion Cove Point said the utility's action was a "patent delay tactic and should be rejected as a further attempt to derail the timely processing of Dominion's applications for construction of much-needed energy infrastructure." Washington Gas in November protested a proposed Dominion Cove Point LNG expansion, which would boost the sendout capacity of the Maryland terminal to 1.8 Bcf/d and storage capacity to 14.5 Bcf, as well as would add associated pipeline facilities [CP05-130, CP05-131].

The utility urged FERC to delay the project until it could be demonstrated at an evidentiary hearing that imported LNG is fully interchangeable with traditional gas and will not negatively impact WGL's system (see Daily GPI, Nov. 4, 2005). A study commissioned by WGL and released in July 2005 found that vaporized LNG from the Dominion Cove Point terminal caused the widespread leaks on its distribution system in Prince Georges County, MD, in 2003. Dominion disputed the utility's interpretation of the study's findings, claiming instead that WGL's aging infrastructure was the real cause (see Daily GPI, July 8, 2005).

"To the extent WGL is unable to timely produce the requested material to support its claims, the Commission should act on this matter expeditiously, dismissing WGL's protests with prejudice as unsupported," Dominion Cove Point said.

Statoil Natural Gas LLC, a supplier of LNG to WGL, shared Dominion Cove Point's concerns, saying that WGL's request for a deadline extension "was nothing more than an attempt to delay and perhaps derail the processing of Dominion's applications." Like Dominion, it asked FERC to deny WGL's bid for an extension.

But if FERC should decide to grant WGL additional time to respond, Statoil asked that the agency limit the extension to April 11. "An extension of one week will provide WGL the time necessary to respond fully to Commission staff's questions and also allow the continued timely processing of Dominion's applications," the company said. At press time, FERC had not acted on any of the requests.

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