BC Gas said it received enough interest in its proposed 350 MMcf/d Inland Pacific Connector Pipeline during a recent open season to move forward on contract negotiations and plan for a regulatory filing by the end of the year.

“Although the available capacity is not fully subscribed at this time, there is enough interest to warrant continued development of the pipeline,” said Rich Ballantyne, BC Gas director of transmission and project development.

“Our development of this project has spurred other players in the market to develop additional pipeline capacity that will help with some of the supply problems in the short term,” Ballantyne said, referring to several Northwest Pipeline projects. “However, we remain convinced that the long-term demand for natural gas in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley and Pacific Northwest remains high and the Inland Pacific Connector will absolutely be required no later than 2004.”

The 153-mile pipeline will link the recently built Southern Crossing Pipeline in Oliver to the regional marketing hub in Huntingdon (near Sumas, WA). Total cost of the project is estimated at C$495 million. The new pipeline will increase the supply of natural gas to the Lower Mainland and help prevent dramatic price increases like those experienced last winter, BC Gas said.

The company said it is engaged in pre-application consultation with the BC Environmental Assessment Office and involved government agencies regarding the provincial environmental review. The company has also filed preliminary information with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in order to initiate the federal environmental review of the project. During the past month BC Gas held meetings and open houses in the Fraser Valley and South Okanagan in order to hear from the public, land owners, First Nations, and government officials. This consultation process will continue as the choice of the pipeline route is examined.

“The public input has been informed and helpful. People are very interested in this project and we are working to address the concerns they have raised,” Ballantyne said. For more information on the project, visit the BC Gas web site at www.bcgas.com. BC Gas Inc. subsidiary BC Gas Utility is the largest distributor of natural gas in British Columbia, serving 764,000 customers.

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