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Nominations for the trip to Chicago on Northern Border reached 490 MMcf/d by the middle of last week, which shows the line has been ramping up gradually since beginning service on Dec. 22. But it still is about 175 MMcf/d short of being full. The 665 MMcf/d extension did not begin service near full capacity as pipeline officials had predicted for a number of reasons, a spokeswoman said. "The California market has been particularly strong the last few weeks. The delivery point at Sumas, WA, has been very price-positive for the Canadians so there's been a huge amount of gas going in that direction," noted Northern Border's Beth Jensen. There also was a set-back caused by water left in the line following hydrostatic testing. "They did have some delivery points that froze so we had to work those things out." Unfortunately there was a four-day period without gas flow just prior to bidweek, which created market uncertainty entering the month and probably impacted nominations. "The kinks in the system are being worked out," she said. "Now nominations at Manhattan, IL, [into Peoples] are 340 MMcf/d and at Minooka [into NiGas] are 150 MMcf/d. "Frankly I don't think the market in Chicago to this point has jelled. I think it's on its way to working out. But right now the market off of Ventura, IA, [into Northern Natural to Minnesota and western Wisconsin] seems to be as strong as anything. It's been very cold up there." Northern Border's expansion/extension project increased take-away capacity at Ventura by 260 MMcf/d.

Portland Natural Gas Transmission System isn't going to make its second start-up deadline at the end of January, but officials are promising to be in service in early February. The pipeline originally expected 152 MMcf/d of Canadian gas would begin flowing to New England markets last November. "It's almost done. We're looking at welding the pipeline to TQM sometime during the first week in February," said a spokesman. The pipeline still requires about 100 tie-ins in northern New Hampshire about 10 miles south of the border. "Everything is done except tie-ins and testing the pipe. TQM already has gas in part of their pipe going to Waterloo in Quebec," said PNGTS Spokesman Richard Anderson. "The other place we're working on the pipe is just north of Westbrook, ME. And we have one more horizontal directional drill under the Great Works River." Pipeline construction was held up by heavy rains, a lot of difficult stream crossings, environmental concerns and clean-up work. "We were able to resolve all the issues with FERC," said Anderson. The 292-mile pipeline system will extend to a connection with Tennessee Gas Pipeline in northern Massachusetts from a connection with an extension of the Trans Quebec &amp Maritimes Pipeline near East Hereford, PQ. Gas volumes are expected to reach 210 MMcf/d by November.

The Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) will sponsor a major conference later this month to review the status of North American gas supply and demand. The conference, which will be held Jan. 28th at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C., specifically will take a look at industry forecasts for a 30 Tcf gas market by 2010 and projected demand levels. The keynote speaker will be Ralph E. Goodale, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources. His U.S. counterpart, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, also has been invited to attend. Other speakers include Rep. Ron Packard (R-CA), chairman of the subcommittee on energy and water development, and Jay Hakes, administrator of the Energy Information Administration. FERC Chairman James J. Hoecker has been invited.

Texas Utilities subsidiary TU Integrated Solutions formed a strategic venture with ServiceMaster to own and operate a nationwide energy management business. The new venture has acquired all the assets of ServiceMaster Energy Management (SEM), currently a division of ServiceMaster, and will be owned 85% by Texas Utilities and 15% by ServiceMaster. Texas Utilities will invest $46 million for its share of the venture. Since its inception in 1976, SEM has developed a package of services that assists customers in achieving energy cost savings for large, complex energy projects. SEM has access to ServiceMaster's established customer base and has been providing a range of services, including initial energy audits, feasibility studies, engineering, construction, training and performance monitoring. The company has posted annual earnings growth of approximately 16% since 1992. "There is a growing desire in the business community to outsource non-core functions," said Kenneth R. Breeden, president of TU Integrated Solutions. "We are capitalizing on these outsourcing trends and needs to help customers increase efficiencies and productivity."

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