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Bison to Provide New Northern Outlet for Powder River Gas

Bison Pipeline LLC (Bison) has filed an application at FERC to build a major natural gas pipeline that would provide a new northbound route out of the Rocky Mountains to Midwest markets.

The proposed Bison Pipeline would have the initial capacity to transport 477 MMcf/d, expandable to 1 Bcf/d, from the prolific Powder River Basin in Wyoming to Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. The 302-mile, 30-inch diameter line would extend northeastward from the Dead Horse region near Gillette, WY, across the southeastern corner of Montana and into southwestern North Dakota where it would interconnect with the pipeline system of Northern Border Pipeline Co. near its Compressor Station No. 6 in Morton County, ND. The cost of the project is estimated at $609.6 million [CP09-161].

Bison Pipeline has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a certificate by no later than Feb. 20, 2010 so that it can place the facilities in service by Nov. 15 of that year. Bison is a limited liability company, and its sole member is TC Continental Pipeline Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp. TransCanada Northern Border Inc., also a TransCanada subsidiary, would be the operator of Bison.

While TransCanda has said in the past that Bison might possibly be combined with its larger Pathfinder Pipeline project, the company gave no indication of this in the Bison application (see Daily GPI, Sept. 4, 2008). Pathfinder is a proposed 625-mile, 36- and 42-inch diameter interstate pipe that would transport gas northeast from Meeker, CO, through Montana to the Northern Border system in North Dakota for delivery into the Ventura, IA, and Chicago-area markets. The anticipated in-service date is late 2010.

The proposed Bison pipeline has capacity commitments with four shippers: Anadarko Energy Services Co. (250 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years); Williams Gas Marketing Inc. (100 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years); Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. (51.706 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years) and MidAmerican Energy Co. (5 MMcf/d for a term of 10 years). Anadarko Energy is the project's foundation shipper (see Daily GPI, May 16, 2008).

Even as producers continue to lay down rigs across the country due to low natural gas prices (see Daily GPI, April 27), Bison maintains that the project is designed to serve the expanding production in the Powder River Basin. "Twenty thousand wells have been drilled in this area in the last 10 years and annual additions are projected to be in the range of 2,000 wells per year," Bison said in its application. "Current natural gas production from the Powder River Basin is about 1.5 Bcf/d and supply growth is expected to continue, with production forecasts by 2020 ranging from about 2 Bcf/d to as high as 4 Bcf/d. The coalbed methane potential of the Powder River Basin has been estimated at 18.5 Tcf."

The project, with its direct connection to Northern Border, would provide a new northbound route out of the the entire Rocky Mountain production region to the growing Midwest market, according to Bison. To the north out of the Powder River Basin, currently there is approximately 140 MMcf/d of capacity on the Williston Basin Interstate Grasslands Pipeline, which is being expanded to 213 MMcf/d this year. The Grasslands Pipeline is fully contracted and additional capacity increases would require significant looping and compression (see Daily GPI, Sept. 2, 2008), Bison said.

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