Equitable Resources Inc. denied reports that it was pulling out of the Northeast Passage pipeline project, but rather said it merely has altered its game plan to get its Appalachian natural gas to market.

The Pittsburgh-based energy company initially was interested in the Northeast Passage project, which it and Tennessee Gas Pipeline planned to develop, as a vehicle to deliver its Kentucky gas to market, said Equitable spokesman Wayne Desbrow. But Equitable now has decided that it could meet that need with Tennessee’s proposed 300 Line expansion.

“We’ve gone in another direction and satisfied that need with our participation in the 300 Line expansion,” Desbrow told NGI. “This doesn’t mean we have lost interest in Northeast Passage.”

Equitable, a major producer of Appalachian shale gas, “still is interested in Northeast Passage as a possible vehicle to carry its Marcellus gas production from southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” he said.

In December 2007 both El Paso Corp.’s Tennessee and Equitable Resources announced plans to develop the Northeast Passage line, which would deliver 1.1 Bcf/d of Rockies natural gas from the terminus of the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) in Clarington, OH, to northeastern markets (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2007). The proposed 471-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline initially was targeted for in service in November 2011, but Tennessee this week postponed the date to 2012-2013. The eastern segment of REX is scheduled to be in operation in January 2009.

“The [Northeast Passage] project is being deferred to a 2012-2013 time frame to better align with market-area growth projections. In the interim, Tennessee continues to pursue commercial activities to enhance its system and transportation services serving Northeast markets,” the pipeline said.

Equitable earlier this month signed a binding precedent agreement for a 15-year term for the entire capacity (300,000 Dth/d) of the proposed 300 Line expansion, a 125-mile, 30-inch diameter loop of Tennessee’s existing pipeline corridor in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (see Daily GPI, Aug. 6). Tennessee said it plans to submit an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the second quarter of 2009, with phased construction anticipated during 2010 and 2011.

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