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Rex West, TransColorado and Overthrust Projects Get Environmental Nods

FERC staff issued a positive draft environmental impact statement Friday on three separate but interrelated pipeline projects in the Rockies that will transport about 1.5 Bcf/d of gas. The projects collectively total about 796 miles of new pipeline that would cross Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and New Mexico, and 237,320 hp of new compression. They include the Rockies Express West (Rex West) project, an expansion of the TransColorado Gas Transmission and an expansion and extension of Questar's Overthrust Pipeline.

FERC staff is calling the combined proposals the Rockies Western Phase Project (see Daily GPI, Sept. 22). The combined systems will facilitate the transportation of production from the San Juan, Piceance and Green River Basins, among others, to markets in the Midwest, Midcontinent and eventually the eastern United States. FERC staff, which examined multiple route alternatives, has concluded that the combined project as designed, and with appropriate mitigation, would have limited adverse environmental impact and would be an "environmentally acceptable action."

Rex West, sponsored by Kinder Morgan, Sempra and ConocoPhillips, represents the bulk of the new pipeline (712 miles of 42-inch diameter pipe) among the three systems and the lead project spurring the development of the other two. It would transport gas from the Cheyenne Hub in north-central Colorado to its terminus at the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line interconnect in Audrain County, MO, which would allow deliveries to markets in the Midwest, including Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago. The pipeline would include five interconnections with existing pipelines along its route that would facilitate deliveries into the Midwest.

Rex West will include the powering up of the formerly named Entrega pipeline, which currently extends from the Piceance Basin to the Wamsutter Hub in Wyoming and to the Cheyenne Hub. New pipeline would extend from the Cheyenne Hub across parts of Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It would have five new compressor stations and four new compressor units at two existing stations. More than 99% of the Rex West facilities would be located in existing rights of way and the pipeline from Wamsutter to Cheyenne would parallel existing right of way.

The TransColorado Blanco-to-Meeker expansion would allow shippers to transport additional volumes of San Juan Basin production to interconnections at the Meeker Hub, including the upstream portion of Rex West, Entrega. The TransColorado expansion includes a small amount of new pipeline, two new compressor stations and modifications at three existing compressor stations.

The Overthrust project includes 77 miles of new 36-inch diameter pipeline in Sweetwater Country, WY, a small line to tie into the Opal Hub in southwestern Wyoming and two new compressor stations in Wyoming. It would provide 625,000 Dth/d of firm transportation capacity (expandable to 1.5 million Dth/d) from the Opal Hub to the Wamsutter Hub, where it will interconnect with Entrega/Rex West.

Staff said that Rex West, TransColorado, and Overthrust would implement resource- or activity-specific plans, procedures, and agreements to protect natural resources, avoid or limit environmental impact, and promote restoration of all disturbed areas during construction and operation of the project. The use of the horizontal directional drilling would avoid disturbances to the beds and banks of the Missouri River (Kansas/Missouri border) and Big Creek (Missouri) along the Rex West mainline and the Deadman Wash and Ten Mile Draw (Wyoming) along Overthrust's Wamsutter Expansion mainline. An environmental inspection and monitoring program would be implemented to ensure compliance with all mitigation measures. the pre-filing process for the third leg of a $4 billion pipeline project that would deliver Rocky Mountain supplies to markets in the Midwest and East.

Another segment of the line, which has been named the REX East Project, consists of about 622 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline that would extend from Audrain County, MO, through Illinois and Indiana to Clarington, OH. The project would have seven new compressor stations, totaling about 236,000 horsepower, and about 20 interconnects to other major pipeline systems (see Daily GPI, June 15). There also is a proposal for a separate Ohio-Pennsylvania extension (see Daily GPI, July 20).

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