TransCanada Corp. Tuesday said its Bison Pipeline has begun service, transporting natural gas produced in the Powder River Basin to customers in growing Midwest markets.

The Bison Pipeline extends from northeastern Wyoming through Montana and North Dakota where it connects with Northern Border Pipeline, which delivers gas to Midwest markets. Bison is a 303-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that has an initial capacity of 407 MMcf/d, all of which Bison says is currently under long-term contract (see Daily GPI, Dec. 28, 2010). With additional compression, the pipeline is expandable to 1 Bcf/d, according to Bison, which is TransCanada's first pipeline to access gas produced in the Rocky Mountain region.

Bison spokesman David Dodson said 407 MMcf/d of space is currently under contract, but the pipe is certificated for a design capacity of 477 MMcfd, as noted on its bulletin board. Bison has a two-year window of approval to find enough new demand to justify building new compression in Hettinger County, ND, to raise total capacity to 477 MMcf/d, he said.

For now Anadarko Petroleum, Bison's largest customer, is using an upstream facility to provide enough compression to handle 407 MMcf/d, Dodson said.

Bison Pipeline 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, is the operator of Bison.

The pipeline has long-term commitments with Anadarko Energy Services Co.; Williams Gas Marketing Inc.; Minnesota Energy Resources Corp.; and MidAmerican Energy Co. Anadarko Energy is the project's foundation shipper (see Daily GPI, May 16, 2008).

"The Rockies was one of the last major North American producing basins that we weren't connected to," said TransCanada President Russ Girling. "Bison provides new options both to producers in the Powder River Basin and to consumers in the Midwest.

"Connecting to Northern Border provides a lower-cost overall competitive solution for Bison's customers, and it adds value to an existing asset by strengthening its contract profile and diversifying its gas supply mix."

With Bison now operating, TransCanada said it has put into service six major energy projects in the last 10 months, including an oil pipeline; natural gas pipelines in Alberta; a wind project in Maine; and a generating station in Ontario. These projects are expected to generate approximately $1 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for TransCanada this year.

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