FERC last Thursday upheld a prior order that approved, over the strong objections of Washington Gas Light (WGL), Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line’s (Transco) proposal to construct two bidirectional interconnections to receive regasified liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the proposed Elba Express pipeline system.

The proposed facilities would allow Transco to receive up to 1,175 MMcf/d from the two interconnections with Elba Express, which still is being developed, and deliver gas into the Elba Express system. The 189-mile Elba Express, when completed, will transport regasified LNG from Southern LNG Inc.’s Elba Island terminal at Elba Island, GA.

WGL, which serves natural gas customers in parts of Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland, protested the Transco project, saying regasified LNG entering its distribution system from Transco’s system could damage pipeline couplings in Fairfax County and Centreville in northern Virginia. WGL’s argument mirrored the one it raised against the expansion of Dominion Cove Point LP’s terminal on the Maryland coast four years ago. The utility claimed that expanded LNG supplies from the Cove Point terminal was responsible for leaks on its distribution system (see NGI, July 11, 2005).

While the “Cove Point LNG terminal and Cove Point Pipeline essentially deliver regasified LNG directly to the heart of WGL’s service territory…Southern LNG’s Elba Island terminal and Transco’s interconnections with Elba Express are located hundreds of miles and several state away from WGL,” said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order, which upheld the agency’s September 2009 decision (see NGI, Sept. 21, 2009).

“The regasified LNG which Transco may receive from Elba Express will be blended with domestic gas already in the Transco pipeline system as it is transported those hundreds of miles before it enters the WGL system…WGL has not shown that its facilities will be unable to accommodate gas which will reach it on Transco’s system upon completion of this project,” it said [CP09-88].

FERC also rejected WGL’s request for Transco and its customers to pay for any facility modifications that may be necessary on the utility’s system to accommodate regasified gas from the Transco interconnection with Elba Express.

In its unsuccessful effort to block the expansion of the Cove Point LNG terminal, WGL argued that the chemical composition of the unblended regasified LNG from the terminal was responsible for numerous coupling leaks on its distribution system.

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