Empire State Pipeline’s Empire Connector project is on track to be completed and in service in the fall of 2008 following recent project developments, said parent National Fuel Gas Co. on Monday. The project is just one piece of the pipeline puzzle coming together to move more gas to the Northeast.

Recent developments include the execution of a service agreement with a KeySpan Energy Corp. company for more than 60% of the pipeline’s capacity, contracting for the pipeline and compressor station equipment, engaging a pipeline construction contractor and finalizing the construction schedule. Approximately 20 to 25 miles of pipeline construction is slated for this year.

“For more than four years, we have worked diligently with landowners, representatives from environmental agencies, agricultural specialists and legislators to move this project forward,” said David F. Smith, president of National Fuel and Empire State Pipeline.

The Empire Connector Project will expand the 157-mile long Empire State Pipeline by about 77 miles. Project costs are estimated to be $177 million. Extending from Victor, NY, to Corning, NY, the Empire Connector will link the existing Empire State Pipeline that runs from near Buffalo, NY, to Syracuse, NY, to the Millennium Pipeline project. One compressor station will be built as part of the Empire Connector Project. The compressor station will be in Oakfield, NY.

National Fuel filed its application for Empire Connector with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October 2005 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 14, 2005). In December 2006 FERC issued a certificate for the Northeast Project, also known as the reconfigured Millennium Pipeline project (see Daily GPI, Dec. 22, 2006). The Northeast Project, which is estimated to cost $1.04 billion, is an amalgamation of five projects proposed by Millennium, Columbia Gas Transmission Corp., Empire State Pipeline and Empire Pipeline Inc., Algonquin Gas Transmission and Iroquois Gas Transmission System. Once completed, the projects will provide 525,400 Dth/d of new gas supply to growing markets in the Northeast.

Last month Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Gas Transmission broke ground on its Ramapo Expansion (see Daily GPI, July 25). The $200 million project will deliver 325,000 Dth/d to KeySpan Energy and Con Edison of New York via Millennium.

Earlier this summer, a subsidiary of KeySpan Energy Corp., the largest distributor of gas in the Northeast, executed a firm transportation service agreement with Empire, providing for at least 10 years of 150 Dth/d of transportation service on the Empire State Pipeline, including the Empire Connector facilities. KeySpan had previously become a partner in the Millennium project (see Daily GPI, Sept. 9, 2004).

KeySpan, which serves more than 2.5 million gas customers in the Northeast, is also New York’s largest investor-owned electric generator and operates the Long Island Power Authority system, serving 1.1 million customers. Empire State Pipeline is now actively marketing the remaining capacity that will be created by the Empire Connector.

“We are literally at the stage where all of the pieces to this project are coming together,” said Ronald C. Kraemer, vice president of Empire State Pipeline. “Securing the materials and resources needed to construct energy infrastructure at a time in our industry when such things are at a premium is a significant milestone to reach. Right now, the pipe we’ll use is being manufactured in Baton Rouge, LA, and the compressor equipment is being manufactured in San Diego, CA.”

Empire State Pipeline has engaged Wellsville, NY-based Otis Eastern Service Inc. as the construction contractor for the project.

The first phase of pipeline construction is scheduled to begin in mid-September in Yates and Schuyler counties, with 20 to 25 miles of construction being planned for completion by early December. The rest of the pipeline route, including the compressor station, will be constructed in 2008.

National Fuel acquired Empire State Pipeline for about $240 million from Duke Energy Gas Transmission in late 2002 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 4, 2002).

©Copyright 2007Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.