Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP announced that they have executed a joint venture agreement to continue the development process for Bluegrass Pipeline, a project that would transport natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to the rapidly expanding petrochemical and export complex on the U.S. Gulf Coast, as well as the developing petrochemical market in the Northeast U.S.
Phase one of the proposed pipeline would provide producers with 200,000 barrels per day of mixed NGLs take-away capacity in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Phase two would increase capacity to 400,000 barrels per day to meet market demand, primarily by adding additional liquids pumping capacity. The pipeline would deliver mixed NGLs from these producing areas to proposed new fractionation and storage facilities, which would have connectivity to petrochemical facilities and product pipelines along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.
The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline would include constructing a new NGL pipeline from producing areas in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to an interconnect with Boardwalk's Texas Gas Transmission, LLC system (Texas Gas) in Hardinsburg, Ky. From that point to Eunice, La., a portion of Texas Gas would be converted from natural gas service to NGL service.
The joint venture would also include constructing a new large-scale fractionation plant and expanding natural gas liquids storage facilities in Louisiana and constructing a new pipeline connecting these facilities to the converted Texas Gas line in the Eunice, La. area. Williams and Boardwalk are also exploring development of a new export liquefied petroleum gas terminal and related facilities on the Gulf Coast to provide customers access to international markets.
By combining new construction with an existing pipeline, Williams and Boardwalk believe that the Bluegrass Pipeline could be placed into service and begin serving customers sooner than other options. Williams and Boardwalk are engaged in comprehensive project development planning including project design, cost estimating, economic and risk analysis, customer contracting, permitting and other legal and regulatory approvals and right-of-way acquisition. Williams and Boardwalk expect that the planned project could be placed into service in late 2015 assuming all necessary conditions are met.
"This timely joint venture with Boardwalk would link two liquids-rich resource plays in the Northeast U.S. with the expanding petrochemical industry on the Gulf Coast, providing producers in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania with the ability to access large and growing markets," said Alan Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of Williams. "The large scale solution has many advantages including an early in service date, lower environmental impact, lower cost and lower permitting risk."
"We are pleased to have formalized this joint venture with Williams to develop an industry solution of connecting prolific Marcellus and Utica liquids production to the markets where these products are in high demand," said Stan Horton, president and chief executive officer of Boardwalk. "The Bluegrass Pipeline project provides an opportunity to leverage our liquids assets in the Lake Charles, La. area and repurpose a portion of Texas Gas without impacting our firm service to existing natural gas customers."
Sanctioning and completion of this project is subject to, among other conditions, execution of customer contracts sufficient to support the project and the parties' receipt of all necessary approvals, including Williams and Boardwalk board approvals and regulatory approvals, such as antitrust clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, and approvals by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), among others. Before the joint venture may begin converting the portion of Texas Gas to be converted, Texas Gas must receive abandonment authority from FERC. Boardwalk plans to file the abandonment application with FERC by May 31, 2013, and the abandonment process is estimated to take between nine and twelve months.