Unless an extra contractor is hired, the joint Maritimes &Northeast (M&NE) and Portland Natural Gas Transmission (PNGTS)pipeline will not be able to start service to Maine this winter asplanned.

M&NE is blocking the hiring of an extra contractor, PNGTSclaimed in asking the Federal Energy Commission to mediate thedispute. Construction delays caused by bad weather “are no one’sfault,” PNGTS spokesman John Flumerfelt said, but M&NE isrefusing to bear any of the extra cost that would complete thejoint facilities by the end of the year.

It’s not a problem for M&NE since its shippers have backedout of deliveries this winter. “They want to delay the pipeline”since they won’t be using it until 1999 when the connection intoeastern Canada tapping Sable Island gas is made. This initialportion of the project is designed to pick up western Canadian gasfrom Tennessee Gas Pipeline to begin deliveries up through Maine.PNGTS has contracts to deliver 170 MMcf/d this winter, Flumerfeltsaid. The two pipelines have been ordered by FERC to cooperate onbuilding a single facility where their routes overlap. “It was ashotgun wedding, and I guess you could say we need marriagecounseling,” Flumerfelt added.

M&NE meanwhile filed opposing any action by the Commission.The so-called dispute can be handled through the alternativedispute resolution process. Further Maritimes says cost overrunsare the responsibility of the contractor or the subsidiary of PNGTSthat is overseeing the project.

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