FERC Approves Mountaineer XPress Pipe Rate Increase

We spotted a story that contains information we don’t fully understand. Columbia Gas Transmission is currently building the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline, a $2 billion, 170-mile pipeline that will flow 2.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of natural gas from existing and future points of receipt along or near the Columbia pipeline system–most of it located in West Virginia (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). At 2.7 Bcf/d, Mountaineer XPress is the second largest (by volume) new pipeline project for the Marcellus/Utica region–second only to Rover’s 3.25 Bcf/d pipeline. It is a big and important project. When Columbia (aka TransCanada) filed the original application, approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, they sought permission to charge $9.827 per dekatherm (one dekatherm is equivalent to one thousand cubic feet, or 1 Mcf) to flow gas along the pipeline. Put another way, shippers without a contract who want to ship along the pipeline will pay $9.83/Mcf to ship gas. Since gas typically fetches less than $3/Mcf, how can you make any money? That’s what we can’t figure out. Perhaps one of our sharp MDN readers can enlighten us? MDN Note: We have THE BEST readers! Dmitry Brown, a Senior Analyst with UGI Energy Services, wrote to clear up our confusion. The prices are per month, not per day. Shippers on MXP were expecting to pay $9.827/Mcf/month, or $ 0.32/Mcf/day. Columbia recently filed a request with FERC to increase the charge from $9.83/Mcf to a whopping $14.66/Mcf! The reason, according to Columbia, is that project costs have ballooned from $2 billion to $3 billion, “related to contractor labor costs, inspection costs, and outside services costs that substantially exceeded the contingency established for such charges.” Last Friday FERC approved the 49% increase. Now shippers will have to pay $14.663/Mcf/month, or $0.48/Mcf/day. Quite an increase…

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