Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) unit intends to employ its new 45.5-mile pipeline in the high desert northeast of the Los Angeles Basin to meet the growing energy demand from the expanding town of Twenty-Nine Palms, CA, and its nearby U.S. Marine Training Base. SoCalGas will not integrate the pipeline into its larger backbone transmission pipeline system, a spokesperson told NGI.

The nation’s largest gas distributor also said it is not going after other pieces of the 164 remaining miles of idle transmission pipeline that make up the West Zone (all in California) of Salt Lake City-based Questar Corp.’s Southern Trails Pipeline.

Questar is keeping its existing 36 miles of the 246-mile West Zone of Southern Trails from the California-Arizona border to Essex, CA, where the line interconnects with a portion of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s one and only transmission line linked to Southwest supplies at the Arizona border, according to a Questar spokesperson.

Questar originally proposed Southern Trails running through Southern California as an alternative to SoCalGas for large customers. The West Zone pipeline spans the heart of the region’s industrial and commercial areas, but the plan encountered stiff opposition from California regulators. As a result, Questar’s Southern Trails in January 2005 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to vacate its certificate to activate the 209-mile West Zone segment from Essex (see Daily GPI, Jan. 9).

In 2000, FERC authorized the conversion of an idle oil pipeline to natural gas and activated the Southern Trails pipeline. Questar had bought the crude oil pipeline in late 1998 for $38 million from Arco, which was later acquired by BP plc.

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