FERC staff issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for Texas Eastern Transmission LP’s Ohio Pipeline Energy Network (OPEN) project, which would carry Marcellus/Utica shale gas to Gulf Coast markets and other markets using interconnections with downstream pipelines.

Assuming mitigation recommendations are followed, OPEN “…would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in the assessment [CP14-68; PF 13-15].

The project would add 75.8 miles of 30-inch diameter pipeline crossing portions of Ohio counties Columbiana, Carroll, Jefferson, Belmont and Monroe. It also includes a new 18,800 hp compressor station in Belmont County. Texas Eastern, a unit of Spectra Energy Partners, filed for the project earlier this year (see Daily GPI, Feb. 4).

According to the EA, Texas Eastern has agreements to provide 550,000 Dth/d of firm service to four shippers: Chesapeake Energy Marketing Inc., CNX Gas Corp., Rice Drilling B LLC, and Total Gas and Power North America Inc.

Agreements include delivery of 275,000 Dth/d, each at Texas Eastern’s existing Gillis, LA, compressor station in Calcasieu Parish and at the interconnection between the pipeline’s meter number 75332, Egan Gas Storage/Delivery in Acadia Parish, LA, and Egan Hub Storage in Evangeline Parish, LA. From these two points, gas could be distributed to other markets in the Midwest, Southeast and Gulf Coast using interconnections with downstream pipelines.

The project also would include installation of three 30-inch diameter taps at the request of Chesapeake and Total to allow for future supply points along the pipeline route. No additional connections to the taps are currently proposed.

As part of its analysis, FERC staff considered potential alternatives available from existing or proposed systems. It found none to be an entirely suitable alternative to OPEN.

“In addition to Texas Eastern’s system, there are three existing systems that are located in proximity to the shale production areas near Kensington, OH, and thus have potential to transport the supply of natural gas in this area,” the EA said. “They are the Dominion East Ohio system, and Dominion Transmission Inc. (DTI) pipeline, which currently transport natural gas in eastern Ohio, and the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC (TGP) system.”

Dominion East Ohio and the DTI system would require installation of a similar amount of pipeline or more to reach Gulf Coast markets than what is proposed for OPEN, according to the EA. The Dominion East Ohio system also is slated to be converted to transport wet gas, according to the EA.

“While the DTI pipeline connects to Texas Eastern’s system, it is currently at full capacity, which would require modifications to the Texas Eastern system that would have a similar, if not larger, impact on the environment than the proposed OPEN Project,” the EA said.

“The TGP system is currently designed to transport gas from the Gulf region to the Northeast, has existing pipelines in the proposed project area, and connects with the Kensington processing facility. In order to meet the OPEN Project need, the TGP system would require new receipt and delivery points to make the system accessible.”

But TGP lacks existing connections to Gulf region markets, which the OPEN project has, according to the EA. “Overall, the TGP system would require a similar amount of greenfield pipeline, but conversely would not offer the transport diversity that producers are seeking and that the OPEN project would offer,” the EA said.