In a change of strategy earlier this week, TransCanada PipeLinesLtd. and Nicor Inc. notified FERC that they were withdrawing theirapplication for their original Viking Voyageur pipeline project toclear the path for a new application on a scaled-down version ofthe project that they intend to file early this fall.

The two sponsors initially had considered amending the originalViking Voyageur application still on file at the Commission, butin the end “we decided that it just probably would not make a lotof sense to do that because [the new planned project] will besubstantially different looking,” said Ed Werneke, vice presidentof supply ventures for Nicor. This is a “housekeeping matter on ourpart to kind of clear the FERC agenda on the Viking Voyageurproject.”

The project sponsors “have come to the conclusion that becauseof the significant change in the scope of the project we are betterserved by filing a new application. However, the work that we didon the Viking Voyageur project, especially the work throughWisconsin and Illinois, is still applicable in large part to thenew shortened version. That is still available to FERC to workwith,” he noted.

The new project, which will be called Voyageur, will be aboutone-fifth the length of the proposed Viking Voyageur pipeline, willflow northward from the Chicago hub, but still will serve the samemarkets targeted in the original proposal – northern Illinois andsouthern Wisconsin. Specifically, TransCanada and Nicor willpropose to build just the southern leg of the Viking Voyageurproject. Their plans call for a 140-150 mile, 1.05 Bcf/d line thatwould begin at the Joliet/Chicago Hub area, where it wouldinterconnect with Northern Border Pipeline and Alliance Pipeline,and would flow gas northward through northern Illinois and southernWisconsin, terminating just southwest of Milwaukee, WI.

In contrast, the original Viking Voyageur project was proposedas a 773-mile, 1.4 Bcf/d pipeline that would have interconnectedwith TransCanada at the Manitoba-Minnesota border and brought gasdown through Minnesota, Wisconsin and into the market hub inChicago.

TransCanada and Nicor said they expect to submit a applicationfor the new Viking project, which will be based on the old VikingVoyageur concept, in either September or October. The project, ifapproved and built, would cut into the transportation markets innorthern Illinois and southern Wisconsin currently served by ANRPipeline exclusively.

Werneke doubts that filing a new application on the Vikingproject will it put at a disadvantage with other competing projectsseeking to serve the same markets, particularly the IllinoisWisconsin Express Project. “We think we still have the head start.A substantial amount of environmental work, engineering work andright-of-way work that was done on Viking Voyageur is in place atFERC on file there. Even though we’re withdrawing the application,it doesn’t mean that that information is any less valuable,” hesaid.

Werneke further dismissed the notion that the sponsors withdrewthe application partly in response to ANR Pipeline’s request onMonday for FERC to dismiss the Viking Voyageur filing. “There is noconnection. We had already come to the conclusion that we weregoing to withdraw our application. We were I guess surprised atwhat ANR did. They seem to take every opportunity they canto…cause us problems coming into their market area.”

Voyageur “is planning to build an entirely different projectfrom the one it has on file,” complained ANR, whose share of thetransportation market in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsinwould be threatened by a born-again Voyageur project [CP98-65].

Werneke continued to be mum on the subject of shippercommitments for the Voyageur pipeline project. “We are continuingto work on that. We feel we have substantial support, but untilwe’re through this open season we’re probably not going to talk alot about commitments,” he said. The open season ends Sept. 11th.

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