El Paso Natural Gas has decided to take another stab at expanding its constrained Bondad system. It has asked FERC for the green light to undertake a mainline compression upgrade to add up to 140,000 Mcf/d of firm transportation capacity on the system, bringing total capacity to 725,500 Mcf/d.

El Paso proposes to offer the expanded capacity from receipt points upstream of its Bondad Compressor Station in La Plata, CO, to a proposed new delivery point to be located near its existing Blanco Compressor Station in San Juan County, NM. The expansion is “intended to preserve El Paso’s ability to transport the currently existing volumes [on Bondad] based on a daily design of 585.5 MMcf/d, as well as provide for the transportation of 140 MMcf/d of additional gas volumes from the Bondad area to the Blanco area only,” the pipeline told FERC.

BP Energy has entered into a binding contract for the entire expansion capacity, allowing it to transport gas on El Paso’s existing Ignacio lines from any point of receipt in the Bondad Pooling Area to the Blanco delivery point.

The cost of the Bondad expansion is estimated at $7.3 million, with in-service projected by April 1, 2004, according to El Paso.

The project calls for El Paso to abandon 10,740 horsepower of compression facilities, install three new simple-cycle gas turbine engines with a total of 18,390 hp and associated facilities, and to restage existing compressor units at the Bondad Compressor Station [CP03-57].

El Paso’s application is a revival of a Bondad project that the pipeline proposed in 1997. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the expansion at the time, but it rejected El Paso’s proposals for an initial incremental rate and change in scheduling priority for the expansion shippers, saying they would confer priority status. Key shippers soon backed out of the project, and El Paso dropped its plans.

In its new application, the pipeline seeks to cure those defects. It proposes that the Bondad expansion capacity be scheduled on the same basis as all other capacity under its Rate Schedule FT-1, and it now offers its existing production-area rate as the recourse rate for other shippers to use the expansion capacity on an alternate or interruptible basis.

“The Bondad expansion will help to alleviate a significant constraint into El Paso’s system in the San Juan Basin and benefit El Paso’s system as a whole by increasing system flexibility,” said BP Energy in a filing supporting the project. The project also will benefit existing shippers by adding more interruptible transportation capacity in the winter months, it noted. El Paso estimates that up to 60 MMcf/d of the proposed 140 MMcf/d would be available to all shippers on an interruptible basis during the winter.

The Bondad project “may be the first in a number of proposed expansions that will alleviate constraints on the western United States interstate pipeline grip, and favorable and expeditious action by the Commission…will send a strong and positive signal to others that the Commission is serious about approving needed capacity in the western United States,” BP Energy said.

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