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TransCanada exec stumps for efficient FERC review at GOP convention

TheU.S. will reap the benefits of its natural resources as long as the federalregulatory process does not hold down natural gas transportationinfrastructure, a pipeline executive said at the Republican National Convention.

StanChapman III, senior vice president and general manager for U.S. gas pipelinesat TransCanada Corp.,said the U.S. is transitioning from an importer to exporter of natural gas, andhe and other speakers talked about the economic benefits pipelines can helpbring to communities across the nation. But pipeline developers need a clearpath through the permitting process, Chapman said.

TheU.S. needs "clear, reliable, understandable regulations in effect, so thatpipelines can be vetted through a regulatory process, approved and constructedin a timely manner, in an efficient manner, but also a responsible manner,"Chapman said in a phone interview after a July 21 energy panel at theconvention.

Chapman,an executive who came to TransCanada with its of , saidwhen he started in the industry, pipeline projects used to take three to fivemonths to go through the FERC process. Now it takes anywhere from 12 to 24months.

Thelonger process times come as FERC is more diligent in its review process, butalso as the commission makes sure its orders can withstand the frequent appealsfiled by environmental groups and other opponents.

Duringthe convention's energy panel, Chapman said "gas is the new center ofgravity" in domestic energy markets. By 2040, gas will have a market sharecomparable to petroleum, each fuel holding about a third of the total market, comparedto the 15% held by renewable energy sources. The panel, composed of oil and gasexecutives and industry champions, also included American Petroleum InstitutePresident and CEO Jack Gerard, Marathon Petroleum Corp. Chairman, President and CEOGary Heminger, and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who sits on the House Energyand Commerce Committee.

"Ourchallenge right now is to make sure that U.S. production has access to theworld market," Chapman said in the interview. "So one of theoverriding themes we've been hearing [at the convention] has to do with exportopportunities, and to make sure there is not an undue delay with respect to thereview process or other legislation that would somehow hinder U.S. producersand U.S. production as they compete on that world stage."

"Ourcrystal ball says that by the end of the decade, to the tune of 6-8 Bcf/d, ormaybe even 10 Bcf/d on the high side, are possible," Chapman said."So if you think of that in the context of overall consumption today ofaround 70 Bcf/d, that's roughly a 12% increase in demand."

Thecoming bump in demand will be a good thing for producers and pipelines, Chapmansaid. As an example, he pointed to Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC facilities that feed theSempra Energy-linkedCameron LNG exportterminal, which on July 18 received from the U.S. Departmentof Energy to export an additional 1.41 Bcf/d from a FERC-approved expansion.

"Ourassets are uniquely situated such that we have what we believe is economicexpandability potential off of our existing projects to hopefully serve a vastportion, if not all, of that additional growth should they add trains four andfive," Chapman said.

OtherColumbia Pipeline Group projects are going well, Chapman said. , , and are on budget and headedfor in-service dates in 2017 and 2018.

Republicanpresidential candidate Donald Trump would be more open to TransCanada'scross-border Keystone XL crude oil pipeline than the Democrat platform wouldbe, Chapman observed. "From our standpoint, one would find a Trump administrationto be much more friendly, not just to the natural gas sector, but to all energysectors," he said.