FERC Friday issued a favorable final environmental review of the three projects that make up the westernmost end of Rockies Express Pipeline LLC's proposed $4 billion 1,663-mile pipeline project that would transport Rocky Mountain natural gas to Midwest and eastern markets. This puts the mega-project one step away from receiving a FERC certificate.

The three projects proposed by Rockies Express, TransColorado Gas Transmission and Questar Overthrust Pipeline have been named the "Rockies Western Phase Project" by the agency. FERC staff concluded that the combined projects, with appropriate mitigation measures, would be an "environmentally acceptable action," principally because more than 99% of the Rockies Express REX-West project would be collocated with existing rights-of-way (ROW), while Questar Overthrust's Wamsutter expansion would run parallel to existing ROW for its entire length [CP06-354, CP06-401 and CP06-423].

The Rockies western phase project calls for the construction and operation of approximately 795.6 miles of natural gas pipeline and a total of 237,320 horsepower of new compression. When completed, the western phase would transport up to 1.5 Bcf/d.

As part of its REX-West project, Rockies Express plans to construct about 712.7 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline in various counties in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, as well as about 5.3 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline lateral in Sweetwater and Carbon counties, WY. It also proposes to install new compressor stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Missouri, and install additional compression at two existing compressor stations in Colorado and Wyoming.

The REX-West leg would transport natural gas from the Cheyenne Hub in Weld County, CO, to its terminus at the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line interconnect in Audrain County, MO, where it would ship to various markets in the Midwest including Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago.

Questar Overthrust proposes to build 77.2 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline in Sweetwater County and two new compressor stations in Wyoming as part of its Wamsutter expansion. Overthrust has entered into an agreement with Rockies Express to supply firm transportation capacity of 625,000 Dth/d (expandable to 15 Bcf/d under certain conditions) from the Opal Hub to the Wamsutter Hub in Sweetwater County. Rockies Express would then transport these volumes through the Entrega Pipeline and REX-West system for delivery to Midwest markets.

TransColorado's Blanco-to-Meeker project calls for the installation of about 1,300 feet of 24-inch diameter pipeline and 60 feet of 16-inch diameter pipeline in San Juan, NM, along with two new compressor stations in Colorado and New Mexico and additional compression at an existing station in New Mexico. This would enable shippers on the TransColorado system to transport San Juan Basin gas from the Blanco Hub in New Mexico north through Colorado and then via the REX-West system for delivery to Midwest markets.

The sponsors of the Rockies Express Pipeline are Kinder Morgan, Sempra Pipelines & Storage and ConocoPhillips. The largest part of the western phase of the Rockies Express system, REX-West, is scheduled to be in operation in June 2008. The eastern portion, REX-East, is targeted for in-service a year later. The REX-East leg would extend 622 miles from Missouri, where the REX-West segment ends, to Monroe County, OH.

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