Nominations for the trip to Chicago on Northern Border reached490 MMcf/d by the middle of last week, which shows the line hasbeen ramping up gradually since beginning service on Dec. 22. Butit still is about 175 MMcf/d short of being full. The 665 MMcf/dextension did not begin service near full capacity as pipelineofficials had predicted for a number of reasons, a spokeswomansaid. “The California market has been particularly strong the lastfew weeks. The delivery point at Sumas, WA, has been veryprice-positive for the Canadians so there’s been a huge amount ofgas going in that direction,” noted Northern Border’s Beth Jensen.There also was a set-back caused by water left in the linefollowing hydrostatic testing. “They did have some delivery pointsthat froze so we had to work those things out.” Unfortunately therewas a four-day period without gas flow just prior to bidweek, whichcreated market uncertainty entering the month and probably impactednominations. “The kinks in the system are being worked out,” shesaid. “Now nominations at Manhattan, IL, [into Peoples] are 340MMcf/d and at Minooka [into NiGas] are 150 MMcf/d. “Frankly I don’tthink the market in Chicago to this point has jelled. I think it’son 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-awaycapacity at Ventura by 260 MMcf/d.

Portland Natural Gas Transmission System isn’t going to make itssecond start-up deadline at the end of January, but officials arepromising to be in service in early February. The pipelineoriginally expected 152 MMcf/d of Canadian gas would begin flowingto New England markets last November. “It’s almost done. We’relooking at welding the pipeline to TQM sometime during the firstweek in February,” said a spokesman. The pipeline still requiresabout 100 tie-ins in northern New Hampshire about 10 miles south ofthe border. “Everything is done except tie-ins and testing thepipe. TQM already has gas in part of their pipe going to Waterlooin Quebec,” said PNGTS Spokesman Richard Anderson. “The other placewe’re working on the pipe is just north of Westbrook, ME. And wehave one more horizontal directional drill under the Great WorksRiver.” Pipeline construction was held up by heavy rains, a lot ofdifficult stream crossings, environmental concerns and clean-upwork. “We were able to resolve all the issues with FERC,” saidAnderson. The 292-mile pipeline system will extend to a connectionwith Tennessee Gas Pipeline in northern Massachusetts from aconnection with an extension of the Trans Quebec &amp MaritimesPipeline near East Hereford, PQ. Gas volumes are expected to reach210 MMcf/d by November.

The Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) and the CanadianAssociation of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) will sponsor a majorconference later this month to review the status of North Americangas supply and demand. The conference, which will be held Jan. 28that the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C., specifically will takea look at industry forecasts for a 30 Tcf gas market by 2010 andprojected 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 beeninvited to attend. Other speakers include Rep. Ron Packard (R-CA),chairman of the subcommittee on energy and water development, andJay Hakes, administrator of the Energy Information Administration.FERC Chairman James J. Hoecker has been invited.

Texas Utilities subsidiary TU Integrated Solutions formed astrategic venture with ServiceMaster to own and operate anationwide energy management business. The new venture has acquiredall the assets of ServiceMaster Energy Management (SEM), currentlya division of ServiceMaster, and will be owned 85% by TexasUtilities and 15% by ServiceMaster. Texas Utilities will invest $46million for its share of the venture. Since its inception in 1976,SEM has developed a package of services that assists customers inachieving energy cost savings for large, complex energy projects.SEM has access to ServiceMaster’s established customer base and hasbeen providing a range of services, including initial energyaudits, feasibility studies, engineering, construction, trainingand performance monitoring. The company has posted annual earningsgrowth of approximately 16% since 1992. “There is a growing desirein the business community to outsource non-core functions,” saidKenneth R. Breeden, president of TU Integrated Solutions. “We arecapitalizing on these outsourcing trends and needs to helpcustomers increase efficiencies and productivity.”

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