TransCanada Expects FERC Approval 'Any Day'

Calgary-based pipeline and energy company TransCanada expects approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the expansion of its North Baja pipeline "any day," TransCanada CEO Henry Morse Jr told BNamericas in an email.

The pipeline runs 80 miles (129km) from Ehrenberg, Arizona, through southeastern California to the Mexican border to connect with the 140-mile Bajanorte pipeline owned by Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

Gas currently flows southward from the Ehrenberg interconnection with El Paso Natural Gas Company and the expansion would nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline and enable bi-directional flow of natural gas.

Transcanada already has received necessary authorizations from the California State Lands Commission as well as all other local authorities and is waiting only for the FERC certificate, Morse said.

Following receipt of the certificate, "we can move through the staff process at FERC to obtain a Notice to Proceed to begin construction. Because we have done a significant amount of pre-work with the FERC staff, this should occur quickly," Morse said.

Morse added the company still expects to begin construction on the line before end-August.

The combined 220-mile TransCanada/Sempra natural gas transportation system currently provides gas to Baja California with a 500Mf3/d (14Mm3/d) in capacity. Flow will be reversed to bring gas to California from the Costa Azul LNG terminal once operations begin, according to Sempra's website.

The Sempra and TransCanada expansions will enable the import of up to 2.7Bf3/d of re-gasified LNG supplied from Mexico's Baja California state to the US, according to Transcanada's website.

Construction of the Costa Azul terminal is more than 80% complete and is scheduled to begin operations in 2008.

The 45-mile (72km) expansion to the Bajanorte pipeline to connect with the LNG terminal is more than 60% compete.

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