FERC Friday approved Empire Pipeline Inc.’s request to begin service on its Tioga County Extension to transport Marcellus Shale production in Pennsylvania to the U.S.-Canadian border.

The order approves for in-service the 15-mile Tioga County extension, which runs from Jackson, PA, to Corning, NY, an interconnect at Corning; repiping at the existing Oakfield Compressor Station; a new Victor (NY) Compressor Station; and a new producer interconnect at Jackson, said Sandra James, a spokeswoman for Empire Pipeline [CP10-493]. She noted that the pipeline has not placed the facilities in service yet; they still are being field tested.

James said Empire began service on one part of the project on Nov. 9 — an interconnection with Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Hopewell, NY (see Shale Daily, Nov. 8).

The extension project spans Tioga County, which is near the Pennsylvania-New York border; and several southwest counties in New York: Steuben, Ontario and Genesee.

The facilities will allow Empire to reverse flow on its system and will permit it to receive up to 350,000 Dth/d of Marcellus Shale production in Tioga County, and transport that gas to the facilities of TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. at Chippawa, ON.

Empire, a subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Co., said it has entered into precedent agreements for firm transportation service for the entire capacity of the project for an initial term of 10 years. The cost of the Tioga extension has been estimated at $46.7 million.

The Tioga County Extension and other projects due to come online will provide the Marcellus with nearly 1.0 Bcf/d of increased takeaway capacity, and natural gas pipeline takeaway capacity will more than double its current level by 2013, according to Bentek Energy LLC.

When originally built in the early 1990s Empire consisted of a 24-inch diameter pipeline extending from an interconnection with TransCanada at the border between the United States and Canada near Chippawa, eastward for 157 miles to its terminus near Syracuse, NY.

In 2006 Empire got the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) go-ahead to construct the 78-mile, 24-inch diameter Empire Connector pipeline from Victor (about 60 miles west of Syracuse) southward for 78 miles to an interconnection with Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC near Corning, and the Oakfield Compressor Station in the Town of Oakfield, NY. Although Empire started off as a Hinshaw pipeline, it is now a jurisdictional interstate pipeline transporting gas from the U.S.-Canadian border to customers along its original pipeline system and through the Empire Connector to Millennium.