Coalbed methane is booming and the Powder River Basin has the pipeline projects to prove it. Plans for two new gathering lines were revealed last week, one for a Wyoming intrastate which will have some service in place by the end of the year, and an interstate proposed by Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. to travel 245 miles through Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. In the meantime Northern Border Pipeline said it will be conducting an open season for its proposed Bison Pipeline. All three lines have a terminus in the vicinity of Gillette, WY.

Phase I of Rimrock Pipeline, an intrastate gathering line proposed by Everest Energy and Major Pipeline Co., traversing portions of Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan counties in Wyoming, is expected to be in service by the end of December carrying up to 150 MMcf/d. The pipe would serve a substantial portion of the Powder River Basin by gathering coalbed methane (CBM) gas on the western side, and transporting it to existing pipes on the eastern side of the basin.

Phase II of the line would begin construction by next summer, and its completion would more than double the pipe’s capacity to 300-350 MMcf/d. The pipeline would have an expansion capability of 500 MMcf/d.

Williston Basin will be filing plans this month with FERC for a 16-inch pipeline beginning approximately 14 miles north of Gillette, WY, traveling to a connection just south of Killdeer, ND. The line initially would be capable of transporting from 80 to 120 MMcf/d. “Additional pipeline transportation capacity could be added incrementally as natural gas production grows in the coalbed and other conventional fields in Wyoming and Montana, ultimately increasing … volumes on this pipeline to as much as 200 MMcf/d,” said Tony Finneman, executive vice president of Williston Basin.

“In essence, we’re looking to construct a `just-in-time’ pipeline for the amount of natural gas being produced in the Powder River Basin, and we’ll add capacity in step with increases in production,” said Finneman, who announced the project Thursday during the Fifth Annual Wyoming Natural Gas Fair in Jackson Hole. Initially, the pipeline is expected to feature three large compressor stations – one on the south end of the route in Wyoming, another in eastern Montana and the third in North Dakota.

“The pipeline would also enhance access to our large natural gas storage facilities in eastern Montana,” Finneman said. Williston Basin, an indirect subsidiary of MDU Resources Group based in Bismarck, ND, already has a number of customers signed up. The selection of the pipeline’s route is nearly complete and initial surveying work has begun. With FERC approval, construction could begin as early as the third quarter of 2002, with transportation service slated to begin in late 2002.

Right-of-way acquisitions and the pipeline survey for Rimrock are now being conducted, the sponsors said. The principal interconnect and the eastern terminus of Rimrock would be the Landeck Station at the Thunder Creek Pipeline, located northwest of Gillette, WY. The western terminus would be located near the edge of the Big Horn Mountains, with the route passing through several thousand acres of potential CBM development.

Everest Energy and Major Pipeline, both Michigan based, are privately held diversified energy companies. For more information, contact Jerry Rushmore at Major Pipeline, (616) 774-2600 or Shanti Sharma at Everest Energy, (810) 445-2582.

Northern Border Pipeline, meanwhile, has scaled back plans for its 325-mile Bison Pipeline from McCabe, MT to Gillette, WY (see NGI, Nov. 6, 2000). Now on the table is an initial pipe capacity of about 275,000 MMBtu/d and ramping up to 375,000 MMBtu/d over a three-year period. Another open season is expected to be announced in the next three months. Service is still anticipated for the initial phase by the end of 2003. Receipt points, proposed with Bighorn, Fort Union Gas Gathering, MIGC and Thunder Creek Gas Services, would have a bi-directional interconnect, accessing Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline’s Baker storage field.

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