The proposed Florida-bound Buccaneer Gas Pipeline and GulfstreamNatural Gas System have received initial environmental clearancesfrom FERC, with staff proposing that the two pipeline projects bejoined at the hip in Polk County in the central part of the state,west of Tampa.

Assuming both proposed pipelines are built, the Commission staffhas endorsed a one-pipeline system alternative that would reducethe combined Buccaneer and Gulfstream construction in Polk Countyby about 40% to 73.6 miles from 121.5 miles, shaving off about 48miles.

The single-pipeline alternative would begin at Buccaneer’s PolkCounty Mainline, proceed south to the Tiger Bay Lateral where itwould join Gulfstream’s Line 400, and then would flow southward for7 miles to connect with Gulfstream’s Lines 300 and 500, accordingto FERC staff’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).

“When you think about it, it makes sense” if both Buccaneer andGulfstream proceed with their projects, said Chris Stockton, aspokesman for Williams Gas Pipeline, which has joined with DukeEnergy to sponsor Buccaneer. But, he quickly pointed out, Williamsdoesn’t believe both projects will be constructed.

“Our position has been that we only think that the market’sgoing to support one pipeline, not both of them. We believe it’sgoing to be Buccaneer. I think it’s highly unlikely both will beconstructed,” he told NGI. Both projects, which are targeted forservice in mid-2002, received preliminary determinations from FERClast month.

“I would respectfully disagree with them on that. It’s probablytrue that only one project will be built, but we think it’s goingto be Gulfstream,” countered Joe Martucci, a spokesman for CoastalCorp., the sponsor of Gulfstream.

Also, FERC staff said an alternative that called for re-routingof Gulfstream through the northern part of Highlands County”warranted further review.”

The 744-mile Gulfstream and the 678-mile Buccaneer wouldtransport a combined 2.03 Bcf/d to gas-hungry power generationmarkets in Florida. Both pipelines would cross the Gulf of Mexico,with Buccaneer coming ashore in Pasco County, FL, and Gulfstreamentering through Manatee County. The Buccaneer project has havefaced substantial opposition from landowners in Pasco County.

The Commission staff evaluated an alternative that called forcombining the Gulfstream and Buccaneer systems in the Gulf into asingle 466-mile, 42-inch pipeline (with 107 miles of 42-inchlooping), but it rejected it because the looping would double thedisturbance and because of the complications involved in laying42-inch pipe under water. Also, a single, underwater pipeline wouldbe less reliable and would increase the chances of supplydisruptions associated with maintenance activities, it said.

Susan Parker

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