Following up on an earlier testing of the waters, El Paso Natural Gas announced last Tuesday a binding open season for 320 MMcf/d of pipeline capacity from the Keystone and Waha areas of the Permian Basin in West Texas to the California border near Ehrenberg, AZ. The binding open season began July 5 and closes on Aug. 2.

The project is part of the company’s response to the interest expressed during El Paso’s non-binding open season in March 2001 soliciting shippers for potential system expansions. It follows on an open season announced in late June for 400-500 MMcf/d of firm transportation capacity on a bi-directional lateral it plans to add to its system within California. The lateral, which El Paso obtained as part of its purchase of the All American oil pipeline in February 2000, runs from the area of Daggett, CA, southeast to the area of Blythe, CA, and Ehrenberg, AZ, on the Colorado River. The company intends to convert the line to transport gas between the two points, which are major spot market points for gas trading (see NGI, June 25). That open season ended Tuesday, but a spokesperson said it was too soon to publish results.

The expansion capacity from West Texas will be made available by adding compression to El Paso’s Line 2000 from McCamey, TX to the California border near Ehrenberg. It will be sold at El Paso’s existing maximum California tariff rate, with an estimated fuel charge of 5%. The projected in-service date of the expansion facilities is mid-2003, subject to the receipt of all necessary regulatory, environmental and right-of-way authorizations.

The delivery points will be Southern California Gas Co.’s and Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed North Baja Pipeline, El Paso’s bi-directional lateral (Line 1903), any future incremental capacity on the SoCal system from Ehrenberg into California, and any upstream points on El Paso’s South Mainline system where capacity exists.

“This system expansion will add incremental interstate capacity to California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas to meet increasing natural gas demands, including the demand for natural gas to generate electricity for the western United States,” said Patricia A. Shelton, president of El Paso Natural Gas.

Interested parties can contact their transportation marketing representative or Jerry W. Strange at (719) 520-4687.

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