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FERC approves Columbia's Leach, Rayne XPress pipeline expansions

FERC approved a pair of major Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. projects to transport Appalachian natural gas supplies to Midwest and Gulf Coast markets.

A Jan. 19 certificate order granted authorization for the Leach XPress and Rayne XPress projects. Columbia Gas Transmission LLC's approximately $1.52 billion Leach XPress project would provide over 1.5 million Dth/d of firm transportation service. Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC's $173.7 million Rayne XPress expansion project will add compression to create an additional 621,000 Dth/d of north-to-south firm transportation capacity on its system. The pipeline companies are part of the Columbia Pipeline Group, a unit of TransCanada Corp.

FERC gave the projects a positive final environmental impact statement in September 2016.

"These projects will create critically needed connectivity between the prolific, but constrained, Marcellus and Utica shale production areas and higher value markets," TransCanada Senior Vice President Stan Chapman said in a Jan. 19 press release.

Columbia Gas' Leach XPress project will provide up to 1,530,000 Dth/d of firm transportation service from Appalachian basin producers to certain Ohio markets, a main pooling point on Columbia Gas' system and to an interconnection with Columbia Gulf. The project will include two greenfield pipeline segments, two pipeline loops, three new compressor stations and three additional compressor units at other stations. The project will be built and operated in Marshall and Wayne counties, W.Va.; Greene County, Pa.; and Monroe, Noble, Muskingum, Morgan, Perry, Fairfield, Hocking, Lawrence, Jackson and Vinton counties in Ohio. Columbia Gas submitted an application for the project to FERC on June 8, 2015.

The Leach XPress project will allow shippers to reach "more liquid markets and points of delivery on Columbia's reticulated system," according to the order. Leach XPress shippers will provide approximately $1.38 billion of the project's costs and existing shippers will be responsible for the remaining $140 million.

Columbia Gulf's Rayne XPress project will create bidirectional service for existing customers on Columbia Gulf's mainline system. It will include two new compressor stations in order to deliver an additional 621,000 Dth/d of firm transportation service from the interconnect with the Leach XPress project to markets on the Gulf Coast region. The project facilities will be built in Carter, Menifee and Montgomery counties in Kentucky. The application was submitted to FERC on July 29, 2015.

The certificate order also authorized abandonments, including approximately 28 miles of 20-inch-diameter pipeline in Fairfield, Hocking and Vinton counties in Ohio. The pipeline would be replaced with pipeline loop in the Leach XPress project.

The commission's order stipulated that the projects should be ready to be placed into service within two years, or by Jan. 19, 2019. (FERC dockets CP15-514, CP15-539)