Although at times it has operated bidirectionally, TransCanada has made its Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline from western Canada to California a two-way line with the establishment of an agreement with El Paso’s Ruby Pipeline, which interconnects with GTN in southeast Oregon, a Houston-based spokesperson confirmed Friday.

TransCanada has gained permission to offer firm service north on GTN to Ruby, although it did not make any formal public announcement. TransCanada told NGI “we have been doing [interruptible] backhauls via displacement for years.” And he added that for “the foreseeable future,” the firm contracts on GTN headed north will be fulfilled via displacement.

El Paso has a contract for 10,000 Dth/d of new firm service, the spokesperson said. The deal starts Nov. 1 this year. “El Paso wanted firm service, and to offer firm, we had to make some minor changes to some meters,” said the spokesperson.

When it was beginning commercial operations last summer, Ruby pipeline held only a narrow initial market in the West, centered on Northern California (see Daily GPI, July 12, 2011). Markets in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California remained virtually untapped, according to sources in those regions. There were no shippers north of Malin, OR, at the far southernmost interstate pipeline hub in Oregon currently signed up for some of Ruby’s ultimate 1.5 Bcf/d capacity.

While emphasizing that the Ruby deal is not new capacity, just new firm service, the spokesperson said how much of the service will be available going forward will depend on the delivery point and flows on any given day. “The delivery point in large measure determines how much service can be accommodated,” he said.

In the development stages, GTN was not necessarily aligned with El Paso’s plans to build Ruby. When the pipeline was seeking regulatory approvals, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) dismissed as “premature and speculative” concerns raised by GTN and Texas Gas Transmission that the project would lead to unsubscribed capacity on their systems. GTN reacted to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), turning back 250 MMcf/d on the Canadian line after signing up for capacity on Ruby (see Daily GPI, Sept. 8, 2009).

At the time, FERC concluded that the potential loss of transportation services by GTN was “attributable, in part, to the decline in gas supplies from production areas in western Canada.” It also said at the time Ruby and GTN were holding discussions on transportation options for using GTN facilities from Ruby’s proposed interconnection with GTN.

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