Transportation news briefs, Aug. 2

Petrozuata ... Koch Carbon ... Koch Terminales y Solidos del Caribe ... Conoco ... PDVSA ... Questar � Maritrans ... Alliance Pipeline

Venezuelan heavy oil producer Petrozuata let a 20-year contract to Koch Carbon Inc. affiliate Koch Terminales y Solidos del Caribe CCA to operate a minerals terminal in Jose, Venezuela. The facility, owned by Petrozuata, will handle petroleum coke and prilled sulfur from Petrozuata's Jose facility and other heavy oil upgrading facilities in the area that are currently under construction. The expected annual throughput of the terminal, once these other projects become operational, is nearly 3.5 million tons of petroleum coke and 400,000 tons of prilled sulfur. Petrozuata is a joint venture of Conoco Inc. and Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a final order granting a certificate of convenience and necessity to Questar Corp. for the $155 million Southern Trails pipeline. When completed, the project would ship natural gas to southern California from natural gas-producing basins in the Four Corners region, where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah intersect. The 693-mile, 16-in. pipeline was built by a group of oil companies in 1957 to move crude oil to southern California refineries. Questar purchased the pipeline in 1998 and formed a subsidiary to convert it to operate as a natural line. The Southern Trails pipeline will transport 80-90 MMcfd of gas across New Mexico and Arizona and 120 MMcfd in California. The project is still subject to various regulatory approvals and agreements with interconnecting pipeline companies.

Conoco Inc. and Maritrans Inc. said they are jointly developing advanced shuttle technologies to transport deepwater Gulf of Mexico crude oil to US refineries more economically than by pipeline. The companies said they had decided to proceed with development plans as the US Minerals Management Service continues to evaluate the use of shuttle tankers to transport crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico from floating production, storage, and offloading systems to shore. MMS is expected to make a final decision next year. The companies are evaluating variations of shuttle tankers and deepwater loading systems successfully used elsewhere in the world to transport remote crude oil reserves to determine their applicability in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Alliance Pipeline project to move natural gas and liquids from Western Canada to the US Midwest is on schedule for start-up Oct. 2, and all mainline weldings are now completed, say the project partners. The $3 billion US portion of the line will move 1.325 bcfd of gas through the 1,845-mile system. Alliance spokesman Dennis Prince said some lateral systems remain to be completed in northern Alberta as well as tie-in weldings on parts of the pipe that traverse road crossings. Some construction has to be completed on compressor stations in the US, and the mainline has to be tested and commissioned by the start date. Partners in the Alliance project include Westcoast Energy Inc., Enbridge Inc., Williams, and Coastal Corp.

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