Enticed by LNG projects planned for the Columbia River, TransCanada’s Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) system and Northwest Natural Gas Co. are holding an open season for a new 220-mile project called Palomar Gas Transmission.

Palomar would connect GTN and Northwest Natural in two places and link Oregon’s Willamette Valley with the GTN mainline. The project would compete with Williams’s Northwest Pipeline, the region’s incumbent system and only interstate currently serving the valley and what is known as the I-5 corridor.

“It’s very preliminary right now. We’re just going out with the open season; we don’t know what’s going to come back, TransCanada spokesman David Dodson told NGI.

The system as currently envisioned would move gas west from the GTN mainline. However, it could be bi-directional and configured to serve liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities that have been proposed for the Columbia River. These include the Bradwood Landing project of NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc. (see NGI, July 31).

Bradwood Landing is the most advanced of four proposals for LNG facilities on the Columbia and is located about 40 miles upriver to the east of Astoria, which is located in the extreme northwest point of the state at the mouth of the river where it meets the Pacific Ocean, dividing the states of Washington and Oregon. Calpine Corp. has a proposal nearest to Astoria in Warrenton, OR, at the Columbia’s mouth. Warrenton’s city commission voted June 27 to intervene in the LNG case.

Another project is along the Pacific Coast at Coos Bay, OR, where the Jordan Cove project is active. Jordan Cove is partnering with PG&E to sponsor the proposed 223-mile Pacific Connector gas pipeline from Coos Bay to the California-Oregon border. This is intended to give the project access to all major interstate pipelines in the West and to storage in the Sacramento Valley, Mist, OR, and Jackson Prairie, WA.

While the LNG projects have yet to go through their final sorting, TransCanada and Northwest Natural clearly see an opportunity.

“There have been a number of proposals for LNG on the Columbia, which is to the north of where we’re located, so we thought, ‘well, shoot, let’s do an open season and see if any of those want to take some capacity on this pipeline because they’re going to need a takeaway pipeline,'” said Dodson. “We would love to be the pipe that connects that LNG to markets.”

The entire project would be in Oregon. A 110-mile segment, the eastern zone, would run west from the GTN mainline to interconnect with Northwest Natural at Molalla, OR. The western zone would run west from Molalla and turn north toward the Columbia River and another interconnect with Northwest Natural 110 miles later. The pipeline would provide shippers access to the Mist, OR, underground gas storage facility. Northwest Natural distributes gas to more than 600,000 customers in Oregon and Washington. Dodson said he could not provide any information on potential system capacity. “At this point there are so many ifs. Right now we just want to see what the market wants.”

Should the project go forward, it would give GTN a needed shot in the arm. The summer-peaking system has been running less than full and is in the midst of a rate case to raise rates and boost revenue (see NGI, July 3). The technical conference in the case began Tuesday at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Fundamental changes to the markets served by GTN include an increase in pipeline capacity into GTN’s major market in California as well as an increase in pipeline capacity out of GTN’s major supply area in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin,” said TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle in July.

While GTN throughput has generally lagged, that wasn’t true this summer. At the pipeline’s Station 14, just upstream of Malin on the California-Oregon border, the system was full from the last week of June through the first week of September, Dodson told NGI. That means just more than 2 Bcf/d flowed through Station 14. Since then the pipe has returned to flows more in line with shoulder months, about 1.5 Bcf/d.

The open season began Sept. 25. Requests for service are due by 5 p.m. PST Thursday, Nov. 2. Revised estimated rates will be provided by Dec. 1. The deadline for firm transportation precedent agreements will be Jan. 8. For information, contact David White, GTN director of business development, at (503) 833-4321 or Michael Burke, GTN project development manager, at (503) 833-4509.

©Copyright 2006Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.