FERC Asks El Paso To Consider Expansion

A top-level FERC staffer last week asked El Paso Natural Gas to consider switching its Line 2000 crude-oil conversion from a replacement project to an expansion of its existing system to ease pipeline capacity constraints to the California border.

"I am writing to inquire about the feasibility of modifying the...project in a manner which could assist the difficult situation now confronting the California gas market," said Daniel M. Adamson, director of FERC's Office of Energy Projects.

In August, El Paso filed an application to acquire an existing 30-inch diameter, 1,088-mile crude oil pipeline from Plains All American Pipeline L.P., and convert part of it to natural gas transportation. The line extends from McCamey, TX, to Bakersfield, CA. El Paso seeks to convert the 785-mile segment from McCamey to Ehrenberg, AZ, to gas. El Paso proposed the Line 2000 project as a loop line to replace existing compression, and not as a system expansion.

"It appears that if El Paso kept the six...compressor stations on the line and implemented any necessary facility additions and modifications to integrate the converted line with its existing South System, it may be possible for El Paso to increase its delivery capacity into California," Adamson said.

He asked El Paso to consider this option, given "the current difficult energy situation there [in California] and the consequent need to examine all possible options for substantive relief" of the situation. "I am interested in your thoughts on this matter, including the feasibility of such an expansion, the magnitude of facilities and costs which might be involved, who would bear those costs, and possible procedural approaches."

If this "is not a viable option, please indicate whether El Paso is considering other options for system expansion which would enhance gas transmission capacity into California," Adamson wrote.

Susan Parker

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