Bidders Line Up for El Paso's Seafarer Pipeline System

US-based El Paso Corporation (NYSE: EP) received enough requests for capacity on its proposed Seafarer Pipeline System to ship 750 million cubic feet a day (mcf/d) of natural gas from the Bahamas to Florida to continue developing the project, El Paso spokesperson Aaron Woods told BNamericas.

Two separate open seasons for the US and Bahamian sections of the pipeline closed on January 19, and El Paso will take about one week to study the bids, Woods said. "The response was pretty much what we expected, we feel very confident in the market demand for our project and we will continue with our development of the pipeline. We do have to demonstrate market support, and with the results of this open season, I believe we can," Woods said.

Separate open seasons on the US and Bahamas sections were held since the pipeline system crosses the US-Bahamas Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary.

"After we evaluate the bids, we have to confirm that everyone who bid on the capacity are legitimate bidders, so we may have to do some background checks and that will take a few days," Woods said.

Given that the response to the open seasons was positive, El Paso plans to file an application for a permit with US energy regulator FERC "sometime this Spring," Woods said.

The Seafarer system will transport regasified liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a proposed terminal on Grand Bahama Island to Florida from 2007. The pipeline, from landfall at the port of Palm Beach, will link up to the proposed Florida Gas Transmission pipeline system. US-based AES Corporation and Belgium's Tractebel also have pipeline projects in the works to supply gas via pipeline to Florida from the Bahamas. Both those projects are expected to receive FERC approval in early 2004.

El Paso's Seafarer Pipeline System will be 128 miles long and 26 inches in diameter. Florida's power generation facilities are expected to need an additional 2 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas by 2008, when capacity will increase by nearly 13,500MW.

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