East Tennessee Natural Gas has applied to FERC for the go-ahead to build a phased 510/MMcf/d extension and expansion of its existing system to serve the expanding power generation and local distribution company (LDC) needs in the southeastern United States.

The so-called Patriot project calls for the construction of a 94-mile, 24-inch extension from central Virginia to North Carolina, enabling East Tennessee to provide service to portions of southwest Virginia for the first time and to introduce competitive supplies of natural gas to North Carolina from Appalachian and Gulf Coast producers. A salt cavern storage facility is being developed by parent Duke Energy Gas Transmission (DEGT) and NUI Corp in Saltville, VA, to bring added value and options to shippers subscribing to the extended transportation services.

The expansion part of the $289-million project would target East Tennessee’s existing system in Tennessee and a small portion of southwestern Virginia. It would entail the construction of about 85 miles of new 20- and 24-inch looping; about 25 miles of 24-inch pipeline relays to replace existing 8-inch pipe; 77 miles of uprates; five new compressor stations; added compression at six existing compressor stations; and associated facilities.

The extended/expanded infrastructure will benefit both new and existing East Tennessee customers, said DEGT President Robert B. Evans. “Completing the loop of our southern mainline leg, adding compression to the northern portion in Tennessee and adding large diameter looping in Virginia will considerably enhance the system’s reliability.”

The entire project would boost East Tennessee’s existing design capacity of 700 MMcf/d to more than 1.2 Bcf/d. The pipeline is comprised of two mainline systems in central Tennessee that converge near Knoxville, TN, serving about 40 LDCs and 16 industrial companies in region.

The Patriot project plans to increase East Tennessee’s capacity in three phases: by 130 MMcf/d in mid-2003; to 310 MMcf/d in November 2003; and to 510 MMcf/d by January 2004. East Tennessee asked FERC to issue a preliminary determination on the first phase by Nov. 15 of this year and a final certificate by March 27, 2002. This will allow it to begin construction on the first phase in July 2002 and meet an in-service date of May 1, 2003, the pipeline said.

Seven gas shippers, mostly power generators, marketers and LDCs, have subscribed to 87% of the proposed new capacity, or 446 MMcf/d, under long-term contracts, East Tennessee said.

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