Owners of natural gas pipeline connecting western Canada, Chicago considering expansion

Published on May 03, 2017 by Daily Energy Insider Reports

Owners of the Alliance pipeline, which transports unprocessed natural gas between western Canada and Chicago, Illinois, are considering expanding the 1.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) pipeline by up to 0.5 Bcf/d, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The expansion of the pipeline, one of the longest natural gas pipelines in North America, would potentially start in November 2020. The owners of the pipeline are still, however, in the early stages of assessing interest in the expansion.

Unprocessed, or wet, natural gas is usually transported at low pressures, so that natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) remains mixed in the gas stream. Alliance is the only pipeline of its kind that transports wet
natural gas over long distances at high pressure. It does this by modulating pipeline pressure up to nearly 2,000 pounds per square inch so that the mix of methane and NGPL does not separate in the pipeline.

The process of determining whether to expand the pipeline involves a call for interest among market participants. If the level of interest is high enough, Alliance may hold an open season for bids in fall 2017 during which shippers would form agreements with the company in order to demonstrate to regulators that the expansion would be utilized if built.