Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) has approved TransCanada Corp. unit NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.’s (NGTL) construction and operation of its C$307 million Horn River Project, which would help carry growing supplies of shale gas to market.

The Horn River Project is an extension of NGTL’s Alberta System to transport sweet natural gas from the Horn River area in British Columbia (BC) to a tie-in point on the existing Northwest Mainline of the Alberta System.

The company has contracts representing about 540 MMcf/d of capacity on the project, which is projected to have 1.6 Bcf/d of total capacity, TransCanada spokesman Derek Rogers told NGI’s Shale Daily. “We are definitely comfortable with the customer interest that has been expressed so far…We see the shale gas development continuing to grow in northeast British Columbia,” he said, noting that the project is sized to accommodate growth in shale gas supplies.

Rogers said the company is pleased that Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) has approved its project but it is still evaluating the conditions of the approval

The project would provide customers direct access to the NOVA Inventory Transfer market. TransCanada said it is pursuing the project in response to rapidly increasing development of gas production from the northeastern BC shale basins. Rogers said TransCanada expects the project to be operational during the second quarter of 2012.

It consists of two primary components: NGTL’s acquisition and operation of the Ekwan Pipeline and the construction and operation of new pipeline and metering facilities. The new facilities include the Cabin Section (72 km of new pipeline) and the Komie East Extension (2.2 km of new pipeline). Four new meter stations would also be constructed and the existing Ekwan meter station would be modified.

The NEB set 31 conditions with which NGTL must comply during the construction and operation of the project. Several of the conditions target the protection of the boreal woodland caribou and caribou habitat, migratory birds and wetlands in the project area.

The schedule for the C$237 million (US$232 million) project sets a target of May 1, 2012 for service to begin (see Daily GPI, Oct. 11, 2010).