FERC Wednesday gave Dominion Cove Point LNG LP the go-ahead to begin service from the expanded Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal facilities on the eastern shore of Maryland. A spokesman said expansion service is scheduled to start either later this month or in early January.

The expansion of the Cove Point LNG import terminal raises sendout capacity to 1.8 Bcf/d from 1 Bcf/d. The project also doubles storage capacity to 14.6 Bcf. Dominion Cove Point and Norway’s Statoil ASA signed 20-year service agreements in 2006 for the terminal expansion and increased pipeline capacity in Maryland and Pennsylvania (see Daily GPI, Oct. 6, 2006).

All of the Pennsylvania pipeline facilities associated with the terminal expansion are in service already, said Dan Donovan, a spokesman for Richmond, VA-based Dominion Resources, parent of Dominion Cove Point. The 88 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline extend northward from the new Perulack Compressor Station in Juniata County, PA, to the Leidy Meter Station and pipeline replacement facilities at the Leidy Hub complex in Clinton County, PA [CP05-131].

But the Maryland part of the project — 41 miles of 36-inch diameter mostly pipeline loop — is a “couple of weeks behind” and won’t be in operation until later in the month or early January, Donovan said.

FERC originally approved the expansion in August 2006, but the fate of the expansion project was uncertain when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit during the summer vacated the original agency order approving the LNG terminal and pipeline expansion. The court ruled that the evidence did not support the agency’s conclusion that Washington, DC-based Washington Gas Light (WGL) could fix widespread leaks on its distribution system, which the utility claimed were caused by LNG, before the Cove Point terminal expansion went into operation (see Daily GPI, July 21).

On remand, the Commission in October gave Dominion Cove Point the go-ahead to resume the construction of the expansion of its LNG terminal, while at the same time barring the delivery of any additional LNG volumes to WGL to shield it from further system leaks (see Daily GPI, Oct. 8). FERC staff Wednesday reminded Cove Point LNG that it must comply with the conditions of the remand order, which specified that the terminal’s deliveries of regasified LNG into its interconnection with the Columbia Gas system at Loudoun, VA, cannot exceed 530,000 Dth/d. The agency hopes that the restriction will prevent unsafe leakage on the WGL distribution system.

WGL charged that an influx of unblended LNG from the terminal caused the coupling leaks on its distribution system, which serves parts of Washington, Virginia and Maryland. In 2006 WGL petitioned the court to review the FERC order approving construction of the Cove Point LNG project after it failed in its efforts to block the expansion at the Commission (see Daily GPI, Aug. 22, 2006).

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