FERC Okays Columbia Gulf Compression Upgrade

FERC last week gave the go-ahead for a mostly compression upgrade that would add 315,218 Dth/d to Columbia Gulf Transmission, restoring its system to its original certificated capacity level and then some.

Columbia Gulf's Mainline '99 Project - the first mainline expansion for the pipe in 30 years - was partly in response to a 1997 order approving a consent agreement that capped off a FERC investigation into whether the pipeline lowered its system capacity below its certificated level without Commission authorization. The erosion in the pipeline's certificated capacity was attributed to the deteriorated nature of its facilities.

Columbia Gulf sought, and FERC granted, authority to add 218,000 Dth/d to return its system to its original certificated capacity of 2.1 MMDth/d, plus another 96,555 Dth/d. This would elevate its certificated capacity to a new level of about 2.2 MMDth/d. The Commission approved the project over the objections of some Columbia Gulf shippers, who argued the pipeline's application raised issues related to the controversial consent agreement and Columbia Gulf's restructuring proceeding.

The added capacity would be brought about by replacing compressor units at Columbia Gulf's Corinth Compressor Station in Alcorn County, MS; Iverness Compressor Station in Humphreys County, MS; and Hampshire Compressor Station in Maury County, TN, with larger units over the next two years. As a result, compression horsepower at the Corinth station would rise to 49,982 hp from 44,750 hp; Iverness station, 45,832 hp from 38,100 hp; and the Hampshire station, 43,100 hp from 40,050 hp. The compressor units being replaced were installed in the 1960s, said Robert Kaiser, a Columbia Gulf spokesman in Houston.

The pipeline said 18 shippers already have requested 270,334 Dth/d of the new firm transportation service beginning Dec. 1, 1999, and an additional 44,884 Dth/d of firm service starting Nov. 1, 2000.

The cost of the compression expansion has been estimated at $37.6 million. FERC granted Columbia Gulf permission to roll in the construction costs into its existing rate base in its next Section 4 rate proceeding, "provided there is no significant change in the circumstances underlying the Commission's decision in this certificate proceeding."

Susan Parker

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