Just days after the pipeline was given FERC approval for construction, backers of the Midcontinent Express Pipeline, which would give shale producers in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma access to southern and eastern markets, said Tuesday they have completed a successful binding open season for a 300,000 Dth/d expansion of a portion of the planned system

Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC (MEP), a 50/50 joint venture of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP and Energy Transfer Partners LP, said the expansion capacity was awarded to two shippers, Chesapeake Energy Marketing Inc. and National Fuel Marketing Co. LLC. Subject to MEP’s application and receipt of regulatory approvals, the expansion will take the main segment of MEP’s Zone 1 from the previously sold out capacity of 1.5 Bcf/d to a total capacity of 1.8 Bcf/d.

The main segment originates near the planned interconnect locations with Energy Transfer’s Houston Pipe Line system and Kinder Morgan’s Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL) in the Paris, TX, area and terminates near the planned interconnect location with Columbia Gulf Transmission near Waverly, LA. In addition, MEP was successful in subscribing the existing capacity available on the 30-inch segment from the Bennington, OK, area to the Paris area.

“We now have 1.8 Bcf/d of binding long-term contracts supporting the MEP project, which will assure that the participating customers have sufficient pipeline capacity to accommodate their future needs,” said Steve Kean, president of Kinder Morgan’s natural gas pipelines. “MEP can also be expanded up to 2 Bcf/d with more compression if demand for additional capacity is needed.”

On Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the nearly $1.34 billion project, which calls for the construction of 506 miles of 30-, 36- and 42-inch diameter interstate pipeline from Bryan County, OK, to a terminus in Choctaw County, AL; a 4.2-mile, 16- and 24-inch diameter lateral in Richland and Madison Parishes, LA; approximately 111,420 hp of compression at one booster and four new mainline compressor stations; and associated facilities (see Daily GPI, July 29). The pipeline has a targeted operation date in the first quarter of 2009.

Midcontinent Express Pipeline would have up to 13 receipt/delivery interconnections, providing access to downstream markets, including those served by NGPL, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, Texas Eastern Transmission, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Columbia Gulf Transmission, Texas Gas Transmission, Southern Natural Gas, Destin Pipeline and ANR Pipeline (see Daily GPI, Oct. 11, 2007).

“The overwhelming success of this project demonstrates the continued demand for pipeline infrastructure, which is necessary to connect the rapidly expanding natural gas production areas to consumers throughout the United States,” said Lee Hanse, Energy Transfer senior vice president.”

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