FERC pushes two projects forward, TransCanada files application for Bison

FERC pushes two projects forward

FERC moved closer to approving construction of one of the three big Oregon LNG projects as well as a major new pipeline in the Southeast. The commission staff submitted a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Jordan Cove LNG project in Oregon and the associated 234 mile Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline plus a draft EIS on the 483 mile Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) Company’s Phase VIII Expansion Project.

Bob Braddock, project manager for Jordan Cove, says he thinks FERC could approve construction as early as July. The mitigation requirements contained in the final EIS would pose no problem for Jordan Cove. They are essentially the same ones that were in the draft EIS, and many of the mitigation steps had been proposed initially by Jordan Cove. It is important to note, however, that even if the FERC approves construction, Jordan Cove will vie with two other Oregon LNG terminal/pipeline combos for commercial support. Only one will be built, acknowledges Braddock. That decision will probably be made by the suppliers of LNG, who Braddock expects to be mostly Australian companies, some of whom are in the process of considering building liquifaction facilities in Australia. They will decide which Oregon LNG facility to sign contracts with, probably by the end of 2009, according to Braddock.

The Florida pipeline is one of the longest mile projects pending at FERC, and now the furthest along (except for Jordan Cover) with the publication of the draft EIS. In May, FERC held public hearings in Florida on the draft EIS. The project doesn’t appear to be complicated, from an environmental or landowner perspective, since more than 99 percent of its miles would follow existing rights of way. FGT extends from south Texas along the Gulf Coast through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida. The gas could come from Texas or offshore wells.

John Barnett, director of external affairs, Southern Union Company, a Florida Gas subsidiary, says FGT had an open season for the expansion project from mid-January to mid-February, 2008.

TransCanada files application for Bison

TransCanada filed a construction application at FERC in April for its Bison Pipeline, the latest entrant in the race to bring Rockies gas to eastern markets. Bison would travel northeast 301 miles from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to the Northern Border Pipeline system in Morton County, ND. Northern Border is partly owned by TransCanada. The Northern Border system takes gas to Chicago and Ventura, IA.

Mark Yeomans, Bison’s project manager, said that Bison’s competitive advantage is that it gets Rockies gas to Chicago without having to build a new 1000 mile pipeline from the Rockies going east. Bison helps TransCanada, too, some of whose gas basins in Canada are dwindling. Yeomans states that 407 MM/cfd of capacity is already subscribe for on Bison, a bit short of the pipeline’s 477 MM/cfd capacity. If FERC approves Bison, it would go into service Nov. 15, 2010. Yeomans says TransCanada will have no trouble funding the $610 million needed to build the pipeline.

First, though, FERC has to approve Bison. Yeomans acknowledges that some upstream and downstream competitors have filed what are called “motions to intervene.” Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Company is one of them. Keith A. Tiggelaar, director of regulatory affairs, Williston Basin, says his company has not taken a position one way or another on Bison. “Bison could create business opportunities for us via an interconnection,” he states. But he acknowledges that Bison would also be a competitor to Williston Basin and could siphon off business.

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