Palomar Gas Transmission LLC, a joint venture of TransCanada Corp. and Northwest Natural Gas Co., said last week it is moving ahead on a nonbinding open season to gauge interest in capacity from shippers seeking to move Rocky Mountain natural gas into markets in the Willamette Valley of northwest Oregon and the West Coast’s I-5 Corridor.

The partnership, which was formed last August (see NGI, Aug. 13, 2007), said the Palomar pipeline will consist of approximately 220 miles of up to 36-inch-diameter pipeline. It will connect TransCanada’s existing GTN System in central Oregon with Northwest Pipeline’s Grants Pass Lateral and Northwest Natural’s distribution system near Molalla, OR, approximately 30 miles southeast of Portland, and have a western segment to allow deliveries along Northwest Natural’s distribution system west and north of Molalla. The system will provide transportation capacity of up to 1.3 Bcf/d. If approved, Palomar would begin service in late 2011.

The company reported that results of Palomar’s initial open season last year provided sufficient commercial support to proceed with the proposed pipeline’s environmental prefiling with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Several months into that process, proposals for new pipelines to move Rockies natural gas into western markets have emerged. Palomar said it wants to provide those shippers the opportunity to express interest in capacity before Palomar makes its certificate application with FERC later this year.

“Palomar represents the shortest, most cost-effective route to move incremental supplies of natural gas into Pacific Northwest markets,” said TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle. “Palomar represents a low-cost alternative, diversifying delivery options and enhancing reliability for customers. Shippers on recently proposed pipelines heading west out of the Rockies have expressed interest in seeing how Palomar might help them better access prime markets such as Portland and Seattle.”

Northwest Natural said Palomar has been in consideration for more than 15 years for the purpose of increasing the reliability of gas supply to its system by adding a second interstate pipeline connection. Northwest Natural currently serves more than two-thirds of its 650,000 customers with a single interstate pipeline, unlike the vast majority of gas utilities across the nation that have two or more pipelines on which to rely.

At about the same time as Northwest Natural publicly proposed to build Palomar, other developers announced plans for three liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Oregon. The Palomar pipeline could be extended to serve an LNG terminal if one is approved and constructed on the Columbia River (see related story).

The open season runs through June 20. For more information on the open season visit or contact David White at (503) 833-4321.

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