FERC okays $532m Rockies Express gas pipeline project

The members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb. 25 approved a March 2015 application from Rockies Express Pipeline LLC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing construction and operation of natural gas compression and ancillary facilities in Fayette, Pickaway, Muskingum, and Warren counties, Ohio, and Decatur County, Indiana.

This project will provide an additional 800,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of east-to-west transportation service within Zone 3 of the Rockies Express system (called the East-to-West Expansion Project). 

Rockies Express’s mainline system includes 1,698 miles of 36- and 42-inch-diameter pipeline that extends from northwestern Colorado and southern Wyoming to the Clarington Hub near Clarington, Monroe County, Ohio. The mainline was constructed and placed into operation in three phases, resulting in three rate zones designated as Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3. Zone 3, the easternmost rate zone, extends from Audrain County, Missouri, eastward to the Clarington Hub near Clarington, Ohio, and encompasses approximately 642 miles of mainline facilities, including five compressor stations.

The mainline was originally designed to provide transportation of natural gas from west to east. However, in February 2015, the commission granted a Rockies Express application for certificate authority to make modifications at its existing compressor stations and interconnections to enable the company to provide 1,200,000 Dth/d of firm east-to-west transportation service within Zone 3 on the mainline.

In this latest proceeding, Rockies Express proposed to construct three new compressor stations and to add compression and other ancillary facilities at two existing compressor stations. Upon completion, the East-to-West Expansion Project will increase Zone 3’s east-to-west firm transportation capability on the mainline facilities by 800,000 Dth/d for receipts at the Clarington Hub to corresponding deliveries of 520,000 Dth/d and 280,000 Dth/d at Lebanon, Ohio, and Moultrie County, Illinois, respectively.

Rockies Express was given authority to construct and operate the following facilities;

  • one new 49,428 horsepower compressor station in Pickaway County, Ohio, including gas cooling facilities and a power and control building (Columbus Compressor Station);
  • one new 31,791 horsepower compressor station in Fayette County, Ohio, including gas cooling facilities and a power and control building (Washington Court House Compressor Station);
  • one new 37,038 horsepower compressor station in Decatur County, Indiana, including gas cooling facilities and a power and control building (St. Paul Compressor Station);
  • an additional 38,400 horsepower of compression, gas cooling facilities, and a new power distribution building at the existing Chandlersville Compressor Station in Muskingum County, Ohio (Chandlersville Compressor Station); and
  • gas cooling facilities and a new power distribution building at the existing Hamilton Compressor Station in Warren County, Ohio (Hamilton Compressor Station).

Rockies Express held a non-binding open season from May to June 2014, and a binding open season in March 2015. The open seasons resulted in precedent agreements with six shippers for a total firm transportation commitment of 700,000 Dth/d. The shippers have signed precedent agreements under Rockies Express’s existing Rate Schedule FTS at negotiated rates for 15-year terms. The shippers are: American Energy–Utica LLC (150,000 Dth/d); EdgeMarc Energy Holdings LLC (50,000 Dth/d); EQT Energy LLC (200,000 Dth/d); Gulfport Energy Corp. (50,000 Dth/d); Jay-Bee Oil & Gas Inc. (150,000 Dth/d); and Triad Hunter LLC (100,000 Dth/d).

The project’s estimated cost is $532 million. Rockies Express proposes to use its existing Zone 3 Rate Schedule FTS system reservation and commodity charges as the recourse rates for firm services using the proposed expansion capacity. Rockies Express proposes incremental rates for fuel and electric costs that will apply only to shippers utilizing the expansion capacity.

Rockies Express is jointly owned by three members: 50% by an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Tallgrass Development LP; 25% by an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Sempra Energy; and 25% by an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Phillips 66. An indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Tallgrass Development LP, Tallgrass NatGas Operator LLC, is the operator of Rockies Express’s system.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.