FERC on Tuesday gave the green light to Rockies Express Pipeline LLC to reduce the compression on part of the proposed Entrega Pipeline segment, which will be integrated into the mammoth 1,663-mile Rockies Express project and comprise the western end of the system.

The order amends FERC’s August 2005 decision approving Entrega’s 328-mile pipeline from the Piceance Basin through the Wamsutter Basin and Hub in Sweetwater County, WY, to the Cheyenne gas trading hub in Weld County, CO, where several eastbound pipelines converge. Entrega Gas Pipeline Inc., formerly a subsidiary of EnCana Corp., was purchased by Rockies Express sponsors Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Sempra Pipelines & Storage earlier this year. ConocoPhillips joined on as a sponsor after the Entrega purchase.

The Entrega pipeline is being built in two phases, and the first phase is being constructed in two segments. The latest order would reduce the amount of compression horsepower (hp) that has been authorized for the Big Hole Compressor Station in Moffat County, CO, in Phase II of the project. Specifically, it calls for Rockies Express to build the Big Hole Compressor station, located between the Meeker Hub and Wamsutter, using one Taurus 60 turbine, for a total hp of 7,700 hp, rather than the originally authorized two Mars 100 turbines, for a total of 30,000 hp. No changes are proposed for the two other compressor stations — the proposed Meeker Compressor Station in Rio Blanco County, CO, and the Wamsutter Compressor Station in Sweetwater County [CP04-413-004].

Rockies Express plans to begin construction of the Phase II compression as early as October of this year, according to the FERC order.

Rockies Express said it requested the change in compression because the original shippers on the Entrega line no longer seek to source all of their gas at the Meeker Hub at the south end of the pipeline. This change results from the development of the larger Rockies Express project that seeks to extend the pipeline eastward from Wamsutter.

The reduced compression will support the transportation of 1.1 MMDth/d on segment one of Phase I of the Entrega line — a 136-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline that extends from Meeker Hub in Colorado to Wamsutter in Wyoming. That segment of the line has been completed and went into service in February.

The second segment includes 192 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline that would extend the Entrega system from Wamsutter through Carbon, Albany and Laramie Counties, WY, and Larimer County, CO, to the Cheyenne Hub, where it would interconnect with multiple downstream pipelines, including the proposed Rockies Express Pipeline. Transportation capacity will be boosted to 1.5 MMDth/d on this segment of the line. FERC gave Rockies Express the go-ahead earlier this month to begin construction of the second segment of Phase I. It is expected to be ready for service in January 2007.

Entrega Gas Pipeline built the first segment of Phase I of the pipeline. However, the pipeline’s new owners will construct the second portion of the system. In addition to this part of the project, the Rockies Express line will consist of a 713-mile REX-West segment extending from the Cheyenne Hub to Audrain County, MO, and a REX-East portion that would run from Audrain County to Clarington, OH. Kinder Morgan will operate the entire Rockies Express system, which would carry as much as 2 Bcf/d to Midwest and Northeast markets.

When completed, the $4 billion Rockies Express pipeline would be the largest constructed in the United States in 20 years. Assuming all regulatory approvals and additional shipper commitments are received, most of the Rockies Express project is expected to be in service in early 2008, according to Kinder Morgan.

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