The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Tuesday granted a right-of-way grant for the east-to-west Ruby Pipeline natural gas project, which is being built by El Paso Corp. and private equity fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

The grant is subject to final completion of cultural treatment plans and related agreements on federal lands along Ruby's 680-mile route from an existing supply hub at Opal, WY, to interconnections near Malin, OR, said El Paso.

"We expect to satisfy the BLM conditions and receive our FERC notice to proceed very soon and begin construction shortly thereafter," said Jim Cleary, president of El Paso's Western Pipeline Group. "Once constructed, Ruby will play an important role in linking abundant supplies of clean-burning natural gas in the Rockies to markets in western states, helping fuel economic growth in an environmentally friendly manner."

The $3 billion project is to carry natural gas supplies from the Rockies to West Coast markets; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a certificate for the 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline in April (see Daily GPI, April 6).

Construction is to begin once Ruby is issued a FERC Notice to Proceed and Construct. Service on the $3 billion pipeline remains scheduled to ramp up next March.

"We can see the finish line and almost touch it," El Paso spokesman Richard Wheatley told NGI.

El Paso secured GIP as an equity partner last year, and GIP initially agreed to invest up to $700 million to ensure that Ruby would be built (see Daily GPI, July 28, 2009). Once Ruby is completed, GIP would be a 50-50 joint owner.

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