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Enterprise will ship an additional 500,000 barrels of propane on its TEPPCO pipeline in response to a prioritization order from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Enterprise said Monday in a notice to shippers.

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FERC late Friday invoked for the first time in its history emergency powers under the Interstate Commerce Act to increase propane deliveries from Texas to the Midwest and Northeast, where sustained cold has depleted stocks of the heating fuel to dangerously low levels (See story, 1508 GMT). The National Propane Gas Association made the request.

TEPPCO is a refined products pipeline that originates in the Gulf Coast and terminates in the Northeast. The pipeline also has a lateral that takes product into the Chicago market.

Enterprise said that an additional 150,000 barrels of propane is being added to the current shipping cycle and that the additional volume must be injected into the pipeline late Monday or Tuesday.

Enterprise also said that an additional 350,000 barrels of propane is being added to a new cycle. The 350,000 barrels on the new cycle must be injected into the pipeline by Thursday.

Enterprise has agreed to make propane shipments a priority through February 21, according to a FERC filing Monday afternoon.

Enterprise said that the realignment of batches will affect refined product shipments and that they anticipate delays of 36-48 hours.

But the impact to the Chicago refined products market was anticipated to be minimal.

"It really shouldn't impact Chicago refined products since [TEPPCO] is all Gulf Coast pricing," a Chicago trader said. "Based on current economics, I would not think anyone would be shipping refined products from the Gulf to Chicago. The only product that would make sense would be ULSD, but [TEPPCO] doesn't ship ULSD anymore, really."

NGPA also had asked FERC to direct Enterprise to put reverse the Appalachia-to-Texas Express Pipeline to allow the south-to-north transportation of propane "if necessary."

The line, which had been taking propane in that direction last year, was reversed in December to move ethane south.

"To my knowledge, the ATEX line has not been reversed," said Molly Odell, a spokeswoman for the NGPA. A spokesman for Enterprise was not immediately available to comment.

--Janet McGurty,
--Beth Evans,
--Mike McCafferty,
--Jeff Bair,
--Edited by Valarie Jackson,