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TC Energy seeks 3 more months to finish Louisiana XPress gas pipeline project

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TC Energy seeks 3 more months to finish Louisiana XPress gas pipeline project


Eyes full service start Sept. 1 to Nov. 1

Ground settlement issues delayed compressor

  • Author
  • Maya Weber    Felix Clevenger
  • Editor
  • Haripriya Banerjee
  • Commodity
  • LNG Natural Gas

TC Energy asked the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for three more months to finish construction and fully place into service Louisiana XPress natural gas pipeline project, citing ground settlement issues that have delayed completion of a final compressor station.

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The expansion on Columbia Gulf Transmission will help to supply Cheniere's Sabine Pass Train 6 LNG export facility by delivering gas into Kinder Morgan's Acadiana Expansion, which is already online and delivers into Sabine Pass.

In a July 22 request (CP19-488), TC Energy said it was imperative that FERC extend the construction deadline from Sept. 17 until Dec. 31, because the project would provide 800,000 Dt/d to an LNG facility, and therefore help the US meet vital policy goals and commitments including assisting European allies with their energy needs.

The company had previously anticipated an in-service date of Feb. 1, but ran into "unexpected settlement issues" with the Chicot and Shelburn compressor stations during final phases of construction, resulting in the delay, the company told FERC.

Since then, it has completed remediation at the Chicot station, placed that facility into service, and began flowing partial incremental volumes July 1.

It is now working to complete remediation at the Shelburn station and anticipates full service between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, the company told the commission. The remediation includes activities such as pile installation, welds on small bore pipeline, dewatering and final restoration, it said. The company in March received approval for nighttime dewatering for six months to expedite repairs of the settlement issues.

Market pressures

A delayed start could push back the timeline for the Columbia Gulf mainline to experience downward price pressure, according to Platts Analytics.

The project, combined with Kinder Morgan Louisiana Pipeline's Acadiana Project, is expected to add support to basis prices for supply at the Columbia Gulf Mainline Pool. Located north of the Rayne Compressor, the additional delivery capacity into KMLP could add a tightening force, assuming stronger demand pulls from Sabine Pass LNG off Acadiana, according to Platts Analytics. However, when full capacity from Columbia Gulf Mainline Pool south is brought into service and fills, Columbia Gulf Mainline prices may see resumed downward pressure.

The Louisiana Xpress project entailed three new greenfield compressor stations and modifications at an existing station and was designed to provide an additional 493,000 Dt/d of incremental north-to-south capacity on the Columbia Gulf system. In conjunction with reservation and use of existing capacity, it was expected to provide 850,000 Dt/d in open access firm service.

FERC in June gave TC Energy the go-ahead on the 46,940 hp Chicot Compressor Station in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. According to the company, that partial in-service would enable 140,000 Dt/d to flow.

FERC's original certificate authorization in 2020 allowed Columbia Gulf two years, until Sept. 17, to complete construction.

Some recent requests for certificate extensions by gas project developers have drawn objections from environmental groups, which have argued that changed circumstances, since the certificates were issued, merited further review. But the Louisiana XPress project extension would be of a shorter duration, only about three months, in comparison with years-long extensions sought in some other cases.