Northern Border Pipeline Co. said Thursday it has received commitments from shippers to support a proposed 130 MMcf/d expansion of its system into the Chicago market area.

The mostly compression expansion would increase the capacity between Harper, IA, and Chicago by approximately 15% to meet additional demand on this segment of the 2.4 Bcf/d pipeline, according to the Omaha, NE-based pipeline. The project would add a 16,000 horsepower compressor in Iowa and make minor modifications to existing facilities, Northern Border said.

Capital costs are estimated to be about $20 million and the target in-service date is spring 2006. Construction is subject to the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

This marks the fifth expansion/extension of the Northern Border system, with the last one going into operation in October 2001.

The pipeline also said it has recontracted additional capacity on its upstream segments from Port of Morgan, MT, to Harper that is scheduled to expire on Nov. 1 of this year. Following a posting that concluded Sept. 16, less than 1% of the long-haul capacity on its system remains available beginning in November, it noted.

Northern Border reported it began the year with 778 MMcf/d of capacity due to expire on Nov. 1. It sold approximately 741 MMcf/d of that expiring capacity throughout the year, leaving it with about 36-37 MMcf/d still not contracted, said spokeswoman Beth Jensen.

“While we have made progress with out recontracting efforts and have now essentially sold out our base firm capacity through the winter months, we will continue to aggressively address recontracting firm capacity throughout 2005 as contracts expire,” said Bill Cordes, chairman of the Northern Border Pipeline Management Committee.

Northern Border Pipeline is a general partnership that owns and operates a 1,249-mile interstate pipeline that transported approximately 22% of all Canadian gas imported into the United States in 2003.

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