FERC has approved Empire Pipeline Inc.'s request to use its existing import facilities at the United States-Canadian border to export natural gas to Canada.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week approved a similar request of Iroquois Gas Transmission System LP to export the growing supply of shale gas in the U.S. to Canada (see Daily GPI, Sept. 20), but Empire Pipeline did not specify shale gas as the reason for its application.

The 233-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline said it has begun receiving requests for firm transportation service from primary receipt points in the U.S. to a delivery point at its interconnection with TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. at the U.S.-Canada border. Empire Pipeline, a wholly owned subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Co., said this is what prompted its request.

"We find that granting the applicant's request for authority to use its existing border facilities for the export, as well as import, of natural gas will promote national economic policy by reducing barriers to foreign trade and stimulating the flow of goods and services between the United States and Canada, both of which are signatories to the North American Free Trade Agreement," the FERC order said [CP10-136].

Moreover, the pipeline's proposal "is consistent with the public interest," it noted. The Empire line extends from the TransCanada Pipeline at the U.S.-Canadian border in the Chippawa Channel of the Niagara River, eastward for 157 miles past Buffalo and Rochester, NY, and terminates northwest of Syracuse, NY. In 2008, the pipeline was expanded to interconnect with Millennium Pipeline in Corning, NY.

In its application, Iroquois told the Commission that it believed with the anticipated development of shale gas production near its interstate pipeline additional supplies of gas would likely enter its system in the foreseeable future, thus expanding the opportunities for export to Canadian markets.

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