Increased demand for natural gas in North America continues to drive the pipeline construction business. Many new natural gas pipelines have been constructed or proposed in the past year as U.S. demand for natural gas soars. Natural gas is the fuel of choice for most of the new electric power plants proposed to ease recent electricity shortages. Western Canada is the primary source for this fuel.
Three new pipeline projects have been announced recently. First is Westcoast Energy Inc. of Vancouver which recently announced its intention to expand the capacity of its Fort Nelson mainline facility between Fort Nelson and Chetwynd, B.C. The anticipated in-service date for this project, consisting largely of pipeline loop, is November 2002. Westcoast plans to expand other portions of its Northern mainline facilities in the near future as well.
Westcoast also announced its intention to expand the capacity of its Southern Mainline pipeline between Chetwynd and Hope, B.C. This project, also consisting largely of pipeline loop, is anticipated to be in-service by 2003. Westcoast intends to file its application for this project with the National Energy Board next month. Westcoast states that most of the pipeline will be constructed within existing right of way.
In September, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. of Calgary announced that it would be building a pipeline between Ontario and Pennsylvania in a joint project with National Fuel Gas Co. of Buffalo, New York. The pipeline will run from an existing gas hub at Dawn, near Sarnia in Southern Ontario, to another hub in Leidy, Pennsylvania. The line will be 346 kilometres in length and cost $400 million to construct. The pipeline is expected to be in-service by 2004.
This project, dubbed the Northwinds Pipeline, also requires regulatory approval as well as firm commitments from shippers. It is expected to include a cross border tunnel near Buffalo, New York. The Northwinds Pipeline is proposed to provide improved service to the mid-Atlantic and New England markets in the United States. The route is not yet finalized but initial technical, environmental and market assessments have been completed.