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Joint Buccaneer, Gulfstream Line Proposed

Joint Buccaneer, Gulfstream Line Proposed

The proposed Florida-bound Buccaneer Gas Pipeline and Gulfstream Natural Gas System have received initial environmental clearances from FERC, with staff proposing that the two pipeline projects be joined at the hip in Polk County in the central part of the state, west of Tampa.

Assuming both proposed pipelines are built, the Commission staff has endorsed a one-pipeline system alternative that would reduce the combined Buccaneer and Gulfstream construction in Polk County by about 40% to 73.6 miles from 121.5 miles, shaving off about 48 miles.

The single-pipeline alternative would begin at Buccaneer's Polk County Mainline, proceed south to the Tiger Bay Lateral where it would join Gulfstream's Line 400, and then would flow southward for 7 miles to connect with Gulfstream's Lines 300 and 500, according to FERC staff's draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).

"When you think about it, it makes sense" if both Buccaneer and Gulfstream proceed with their projects, said Chris Stockton, a spokesman for Williams Gas Pipeline, which has joined with Duke Energy to sponsor Buccaneer. But, he quickly pointed out, Williams doesn't believe both projects will be constructed.

"Our position has been that we only think that the market's going to support one pipeline, not both of them. We believe it's going to be Buccaneer. I think it's highly unlikely both will be constructed," he told NGI. Both projects, which are targeted for service in mid-2002, received preliminary determinations from FERC last month.

"I would respectfully disagree with them on that. It's probably true that only one project will be built, but we think it's going to be Gulfstream," countered Joe Martucci, a spokesman for Coastal Corp., the sponsor of Gulfstream.

Also, FERC staff said an alternative that called for re-routing of Gulfstream through the northern part of Highlands County "warranted further review."

The 744-mile Gulfstream and the 678-mile Buccaneer would transport a combined 2.03 Bcf/d to gas-hungry power generation markets in Florida. Both pipelines would cross the Gulf of Mexico, with Buccaneer coming ashore in Pasco County, FL, and Gulfstream entering through Manatee County. The Buccaneer project has have faced substantial opposition from landowners in Pasco County.

The Commission staff evaluated an alternative that called for combining the Gulfstream and Buccaneer systems in the Gulf into a single 466-mile, 42-inch pipeline (with 107 miles of 42-inch looping), but it rejected it because the looping would double the disturbance and because of the complications involved in laying 42-inch pipe under water. Also, a single, underwater pipeline would be less reliable and would increase the chances of supply disruptions associated with maintenance activities, it said.

Susan Parker

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