Troubleshooting a 268-mile stretch of pipeline that has been susceptible to ruptures, a unit of Williams on Monday filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting authorization to construct and operate an estimated $333 million project to replace natural gas capacity on its Northwest Pipeline in western Washington.

The previously announced Capacity Replacement Project involves the abandonment of 268 miles of 26-inch pipeline between Sumas and Washougal, WA, and the construction of approximately 80 miles of 36-inch pipeline in four sections along the same pipeline corridor. The company said that pending FERC approval, construction on the project will primarily occur in 2006, with an in-service date of November 2006.

The new pipeline and addition of 10,760 net horsepower of compression will replace most of the 360 Dth/d of capacity attributable to the existing 26-inch pipeline.

The move was sparked by ruptures on the Northwest Pipeline in May and December of 2003. There were no explosions nor any injuries. However, the federal Office of Pipeline Safety and the Pipeline Safety Division of the state Utilities and Transportation Commission ordered the company to test and repair defective segments of the pipeline, which was installed in 1956 (see Daily GPI, June 16 ).

Williams said that all of Northwest’s transmission capacity to the south through Sumas and to the north through Washougal is reserved under long-term, maximum-rate, firm transportation contracts. Costs associated with the Capacity Replacement Project would be rolled into the Northwest Pipeline customer rates.

“The Capacity Replacement Project on Northwest Pipeline is consistent with existing long-term contractual requirements with Northwest’s customers and will provide essential transmission infrastructure to serve future market needs,” said Doug Whisenant, senior vice president of Williams’ natural gas pipeline business.

Upon completion of the replacement facilities, Northwest said it will remove the 26-inch pipeline facilities from service without a disruption of service to customers.

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