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PNGTS seeks to place Westbrook XPress expansion in service prior to winter


Critical time for tight New England gas market

Full service could add 131 MMcf/d

Amid tight New England gas market conditions ahead of the winter season, Portland Natural Gas Transmission System Oct. 18 asked the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to place into service the final two phases of the 131 MMcf/d Westbrook XPress Project.

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The request comes at a critical time, as concerns over supply scarcity in New England have driven up regional gas prices far above the rest of the US.

Winter prices at Algonquin city-gates are trading above $16/MMBtu for the November-March period, putting gas prices in the Boston area at roughly equal footing to fuel oil prices on a per-MMBtu basis.

Given the region's increasing reliance on gas as a primary fuel source for electricity generation, its lack of underground storage and limited ingress pipeline capacity, it is exposed to the same dynamics driving global LNG or fuel-oil prices. Either LNG or fuel oil would be relied upon for power generation during periods of peak demand.

Even a small increase in pipeline capacity into the region, like the capacity that the Westbrook Xpress project provides, could have an outsize effect on prices during periods of peak demand on the coldest winter days.

Most other Northeast pricing locations have paced far below Algonquin city-gates' winter strip, with the exception of Iroquois Zone 2.

Added compression

Phase 1 of the Westbrook XPress project, which entered service in November 2019, entailed an additional 42 MMcf/d, using existing infrastructure, on PNGTS Northern Facilities. Phase II and III will increase certificated capacity on Northern Facilities by about 81 MMcf/d, as well as by 50 MMcf/d on the system it jointly owns with Maritimes & Northeast Pipelines.

According to its Oct. 18 filing (CP20-16), PNGTS is seeking to place into service on Nov. 1 the Westbrook Compressor Station and flow project volumes through the Westbrook Metering and Regulation Station in Westbrook, Maine. It requested FERC approval no later than Oct. 29.

Mechanical completion of the facilities was achieved Sept. 12, PNGTS, said.

PNGTS has suggested the project would increase access to supply areas such as the Marcellus and Utica basins, and give shippers moving gas south into New England the ability to transport on PNGTS to existing interconnects with Tennessee Gas Pipeline at Dracut, Massachusetts.

Separately, Texas Eastern Transmission asked for FERC's authorization to place into service its Appalachia to Market Project ahead of the winter season (CP20-436). The project would provide up to 18,000 Dt/d of firm service to UGI Utilities at an existing delivery point in Reading, Pennsylvania. It entails 1.1 miles of 30-inch diameter loop on the Texas Eastern system in Westmoreland County, in addition to two cross overs associated with Texas Eastern lines.

Texas Eastern asked for FERC approval to place the project into service as soon as possible to ensure gas transportation service on Nov. 1.