Ruby Pipeline LLC has applied to FERC for a Notice to Proceed and Construct its 680-mile east-to-west natural gas project, the final hurdle that must be cleared before construction can begin.

The pipeline, which is being built by Ruby parent El Paso Corp. and private equity fund Global Infrastructure Partners, was awarded a right-of-way grant by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) July 13 (see Daily GPI, July 14). The grant is subject to final completion of cultural treatment plans and related agreements on federal lands along Ruby's route from an existing supply hub at Opal, WY, to interconnections near Malin, OR.

In its filing Ruby requested approval of an implementation plan and authorization to begin construction in 33 right-of-way areas that do not have cultural mitigation pending. Ruby said it will file at a later date for authorization to begin construction in areas presently excluded due to pending cultural mitigation. The company also requested approval to begin construction of compressor and meter stations and associated facilities, and asked for permission to implement its historic properties treatment plans for Wyoming and Utah.

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).

The project would extend westward from Opal through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada and terminate at the Malin Hub in Klamath County, OR. Project backers plan for it to interconnect with the facilities of PG&E, Gas Transmission Northwest Corp. and Tuscarora Gas Transmission in the vicinity of Malin. The project also calls for the installation of four compressor stations along the Ruby mainline, four receipt meter stations and four bidirectional delivery points. Ruby anticipates placing the pipeline in service by March 2011, according to El Paso.

Ruby has signed precedent agreements for approximately 1.01 Bcf/d of firm capacity for terms ranging from five to 15 years. PG&E executed a precedent agreement for 375,000 Dth/d from receipt points near the Opal Hub to near the Malin Hub in Oregon.

In July El Paso agreed to donate more than $20 million over the next 10 years to set up two conservation funds to preserve lands and wildlife habitat near the pipeline's route. The funds were established in cooperation with two environmental groups, the Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association, to address potential environmental impacts arising from construction of the Ruby pipeline.

"These partnerships reflect El Paso Corp's industry-leading commitment to environmental stewardship and to this end represent a significant component of the unprecedented voluntary mitigation efforts being applied to Ruby's construction and operation," said Jim Cleary, president of El Paso's Western Pipeline Group.

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