While there is no direct impact from Monday's National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urgent pronouncement related to natural gas transmission pipelines, TransCanada's new Bison Pipeline between Wyoming and North Dakota is still not in service because of some final commissioning work, some of which relates to the monitoring of pipeline pressures, a Houston-based TransCanada spokesperson told NGI Tuesday.

With authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin operations, Bison had indicated last month that it would essentially be in service on Tuesday, but that has turned out not to be the case (see Daily GPI, Dec. 28, 2010).

"We have some final commissioning tasks we want to clear up before we go into service," the spokesperson said. "As a single example, we are doing some work at the pipeline's two meter sets, and we want to be absolutely certain we are accurately measuring pressures and volumes before we go into service."

On Monday NTSB issued its seven "recommendations" stemming from its ongoing investigation into the causes of the fatal Pacific Gas and Electric Co. transmission pipeline rupture last September in San Bruno, CA, south of San Francisco. Among them were strongly worded calls for the entire gas pipeline industry to review record-keeping and testing of all pipeline systems (see related story).

The Bison spokesperson, however, said its opening of the $609.6 million, 302-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline is not being impacted by these latest warning from NTSB. Once in operation, Bison is designed to carry supplies at a maximum allowable operating pressure of 1,440 psig, which the company spokesperson said was comparable to the maximum pressures for other pipelines of similar size and type of pipe.

"[NTSB's] urgent recommendations call on pipeline operators and regulators [industrywide] to ensure that the records, surveys and documents for all pipeline systems accurately reflect the pipeline infrastructure as built throughout the United States so that maximum safe operating pressures are accurately calculated," the NTSB announcement said, listing seven recommendations, six classified as urgent.

"I am not aware of TransCanada's having a [reaction] to the NTSB directive," the spokesperson said. "It should not impact Bison."

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