With the Independence Pipeline project continuing its strugglethrough the landowner gauntlet in the Midwest and through thelonger-than-average regulatory review at FERC, Coastal Corp. isattempting a different approach for its proposed Gulfstream NaturalGas System in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. The company plans toget the word out early and claims its wants as much public input aspossible prior to filing an application with FERC this fall. It hasdrawn a preliminary pipeline route on a map and scheduled severalopen houses to discuss the project with landowners, localofficials, regulators and anyone else who’s interested.

“I don’t think this has ever been done by anyone in the pipelineindustry before,” said spokesman Joe Martucci. No other pipelinesponsor has presented a pipeline route for public comment so earlyin the process, he said.

“This approach is in keeping with the spirit of FERC’s Notice ofProposed Rulemaking, issued last fall, which is intended to improvecommunication, expand public participation and identify anyconcerns very early in the process,” said ANR Pipeline PresidentJeffrey A. Connelly. It’s also a good idea given the difficultiesencountered with its Independence project, on which FERC refused tomake a preliminary ruling until all the environmental matters arepicked through with a fine toothed comb.

And Florida is probably a good place in which to do it. Thestate has a history of defeating offshore and onshore productionand pipeline projects in an effort to protect its pristine beachesand large tourist revenues. The state has only one other interstatepipeline, Florida Gas Transmission, and so far has not been eagerto receive the benefits of pipeline competition. But that may bechanging because of the tremendous need for additional powergeneration.

Gulfstream isn’t the only project taking advantage of thesituation. The competing Buccaneer Pipeline, sponsored byWilliams-Transco, also would deliver production from the centralGulf to the Florida Peninsula. Coastal said there is a projectedneed of at least 9,600 MW of additional electric generatingcapacity by 2007. That amount of generation, if gas-fired, wouldrequire well over 1 Bcf/d of new gas supply.

Coastal projects a two-year regulatory review process for its700-mile project, which is expected to be in service in June 2002.Since announcing the project in February, the company already hasidentified a three-mile-wide corridor from landfall near PineyPoint in Manatee County across the Florida Peninsula throughHardee, Polk, Highlands and Okeechobee counties, to an ending nearFort Pierce in St. Lucie County. Coastal said the study corridorreflects efforts to avoid sensitive environmental features andpublic lands, and to minimize effects on developed areas.

Last month, Coastal said it had received expressions of interestfrom nine potential non-affiliated customers. A subsequent openseason attracted interest from additional potential customers,Martucci said, without providing any names or the level ofinterest. He did say, however, that no one has signed an agreementfor the proposed capacity.

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