FERC staff finds limited environmental impact from FGT expansion

A project adding 820 million cubic feet of daily capacity to Florida Gas Transmission Co.'s system would have limited environmental impacts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's staff said.

A project adding 820 million cubic feet of daily capacity to Florida Gas Transmission Co.'s natural gas pipeline would have limited environmental impacts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's staff said on Apr. 17.

The FGT Phase VIII Expansion Project, which FGT proposes constructing in Alabama and Florida, would include about 483.2 miles of multi-diameter pipeline, add 198,000 horsepower of compression to eight existing stations, build a new 15,600 hp compression station, construct three new meter and regulator stations and upgrade two which already exist, and add a new regulator station, FERC's staff said in a draft environmental impact statement.

The proposed pipeline expansion would cost an estimated $2.455 billion and go into service in the spring of 2011, assuming that it receives the necessary permits and approvals, according to FGT. The system is owned by Citrus Co., a joint venture of Southern Union Co., the pipeline's operator, and El Paso Corp.

FERC's draft EIS noted that the project would have limited adverse impacts and be environmentally acceptable with appropriate mitigating measures. These include more than 99% of the new pipeline using existing rights-of-way; implementation of resource or activity-specific plans, procedures and agreements to protect natural resources and restore areas disturbed by the project's construction and operation; and appropriate consultations with federal and state land management and environmental protection regulators.

Horizontal directional drilling would avoid disturbances to a number of major and sensitive bodies of water along the route, including the Tampa Bypass Canal and Hillsborough River, and other water bodies in Alabama and Florida, the draft EIS indicated. It said that an environmental inspection and monitoring program also would need to be implemented.

Comments on the draft EIS are due by June 8, FERC said. Commissioners will consider the staff's recommendations and a final EIS when they make a final decision on the project, the agency said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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