New England local distribution companies (LDC) have long been aware that there’s plenty of gas in the Marcellus and Utica shales, and now a posse of them has signed up to get it via Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co’s (TGP) Northeast Energy Direct Project.

The Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) pipeline reached agreement with LDCs throughout New England to provide 500,000 Dth/d of long-term firm transportation on the market path component of its project. Capacity takers include The Berkshire Gas Co., Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., Liberty Utilities (EnergyNorth Natural Gas) Corp., National Grid, Southern Connecticut Gas Corp. and three other LDCs.

Talks with prospective customers on both the market path and supply path components of the project are continuing and agreements are expected to be announced soon, TGP said. The project was originally called Northeast Expansion and touted as offering up to 2.2 Bcf/d of capacity; an open season was held earlier this year (see Daily GPI, Feb. 14).

“Multiple studies continue to suggest there is a need for up to 2 Bcf/d of new pipeline capacity into New England and neighboring markets, and the commitment by the LDCs represents a critical milestone in the development of TGP’s role in solving the need for new energy infrastructure,” said KMP’s Kimberly Watson, natural gas pipelines east regional president. “TGP provides unmatched supply diversity, including access to the prolific Marcellus Shale, making the Northeast Energy Direct Project an ideal solution to satisfy rapidly growing natural gas demand that is forecasted in the Northeast and New England in the years ahead.”

Northeast Energy Direct has capacity scalable from about 800,000 Dth/d to 1.2 Bcf/d, or ultimately up to 2.2 Bcf/d, depending upon final customer commitments, KMP said. Capacity is to be made available via a combination of new pipeline, existing pipeline, additional pipeline looping, new compressor stations, station modifications and metering and measurement equipment in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

TGP plans to begin the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September. Subject to receiving sufficient commitments for capacity as well as regulatory approval, the project could begin service in November 2018.