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Ruby Asks FERC for July 27 Start-Up Date

El Paso Corp.'s Ruby Pipeline, which will transport Rockies natural gas to West Coast markets, has asked FERC for the go-ahead to place the new long-haul pipeline into service by the end of the month (see Daily GPI, July 12).

"Ruby...requests this authorization be granted by the Commission by July 27 in order to allow Ruby to complete the final commissioning process and coordinate gas nominations with its shippers," Ruby told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [CP09-54]. It said it anticipates that the pipeline may be available for service as early as July 27.

The $3.5 billion Ruby Pipeline, which has a capacity of 1.5 Bcf/d, is designed to operate at a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 1,440 psig. But it asked to place its pipeline into service at an MAOP of 1,296 psig until it s receives the approval of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to operate at the higher pressure. Ruby said it will be able to meet all of its current contractual obligations for firm transportation at the reduced MAOP.

Ruby has made an unusual request of FERC -- that it be allowed to begin operating prior to completing restoration of the right-of-way and other areas of project-related disturbances. "Rather than deny the market place the benefits of the new pipeline capacity until restoration can be completed, Ruby is reaffirming here its firm and unequivocal commitment to continue the rehabilitation and restoration after the pipeline has been placed in service.

"Ruby understands that should the Commission determine that restoration is not progressing in the manner agreed to by Ruby, the matter may be referred to the Commission's Office of Enforcement for corrective action." . The 42-inch diameter pipeline, which FERC approved in April 2010, extends 680 miles from the Opal Hub in Wyoming to near Malin, OR.

Ruby's website lists all its contracts, with 10 kicking in when the pipeline operations begin or before the end of this year. Those 10 deals add up to less than 1 Bcf/d (885 MMcf/d), with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Anadarko Energy Services Co. accounting for more than half (575 MMcf/d). Most of the contracts are for 10-year durations, except PG&E, which has a three-month initial deal, followed by a 15-year contract that goes into effect on Nov. 1.

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