Miller Petroleum Inc. announced Monday that it finished thetransportation system for what it calls the first commercialcoalbed methane project in Kentucky. The Huntsville,Tennessee-based company completed and started service on a 4.5mile, six-inch pipeline extension that draws 200-220 Mcf/d fromfour coalbed methane wells located in southeastern Kentucky. Thegas, which the company said rates 980 Btu/Mcf, will be injectedinto the Columbia pipeline system and sold by a third party. Fortymore wells are scheduled to be drilled on this site in 1999. Thecompany estimates the finding cost for the project to average$.35/Mcf.
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Columbia Energy Services and the Municipal Gas Authority of Mississippi (MGAM) signed a 10-year gas supply contract that calls for MGAM to buy 10 billion Btu/d, or about 10 MMcf/d. “This acquisition provides firm economic supplies for our participating municipal gas systems and will assist them in meeting the needs of their customers,” said Neil Davis, MGAM general manager. ” MGAM, which represents 20 public agencies, provides gas supply and related services to municipalities that own and operate gas distribution systems in Mississippi.
FERC’s let-the-market-decide approach for certificating newpipeline projects isn’t well suited for all cases, said a leadingenergy attorney last week. With some projects, it hasn’t been “goodenough so additional analysis [by FERC] might be required” before apipeline can win a certificate.
Given the “slim to non-existent gross margins” for marketers,retail gas unbundling at the state level has been a “minimalsuccess” at best so far, according to the results of a study ofmore than 100 LDCs released earlier this week.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission at press time Friday was toissue its rule for upstream unbundling of the Oklahoma Natural Gas(ONG) system. The unbundling plan calls for ONG to remain aregulated utility providing distribution service. However, itsexisting services and assets upstream of the citygate – gas supply,gathering, storage, and transportation – would be separated andbrought under a new company, ONEOK Gas Transmission (OGT). Inaddition, ONG will seek upstream services through competitive bid.
Columbia Gas of Virginia says the first year of its two-yearcustomer-choice program has captured high marks, with aboutone-fifth of its eligible customers in the northern part of thestate having signed up to participate in it so far. This is the”best endorsement for the [program’s] expansion” throughoutColumbia’s entire service territory, a company official said.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission is allowing several gasdistribution companies to compete to provide new service tomultiple areas in the state. The commission approved, subject tocertain conditions, the formation of CMP Natural Gas by CentralMaine Power and Energy East Corporation (parent company of New YorkState Electric & Gas) last week and gave it authorization toplan gas distribution services in the Augusta, Waterville, Bangor,Windham, Bethel, Bath/Brunswick and the southern coastal areas, allof which would be receiving gas service for the first time.
Although often seen as effective vehicles for achievingcompetition, pilot programs also are being used as a “delayingtactic” by some natural gas and electric utilities that aren’tbullish on the idea of bringing customer choice to their markets, amarketing official charged last week.
El Paso Energy CEO William A. Wise calls his company’s latestplanned acquisition the “yellow brick road” to deep-water Gulf ofMexico gas development. El Paso said it will buy DeepTechInternational’s interests in Leviathan Gas Pipeline through aseries of transactions worth about $450 million. Leviathan GasPipeline Partners produces, processes, gathers, transports andmarkets oil and gas in the offshore Gulf of Mexico.