MidAmerican looks to expand US West gas pipeline

US-BASED MidAmerican Energy Holdings’ pipeline unit said recently that it may again expand a big Rocky Mountains-to-California natural gas pipeline at a time when energy drilling is poised to rise in the Rockies. John Nicksich, a spokesman for Kern River Pipeline, said that the company was looking at another expansion on its 2,686-km pipeline system. Later this year, Kern River may solicit market demand for more pipeline capacity aimed at a region where gas demand from power plants is rising quickly.


“We’re doing our research at this point. There are areas on the pipeline system where we could add capacity,” he said. MidAmerican bought Kern River last year from Williams Cos. The Kern River system has a total daily shipping capacity of 1.73Bcuft. Nicksich confirmed the amount of new gas-carrying capacity could be around 500MMcuft/d, but said the final capacity would be determined by market demand. The new capacity could be in service by about 2006, he said.


A $1.2-billion expansion completed this spring more than doubled the volume of gas Kern River carries to California from remote fields in the Rockies, a region at the heart of the Bush administration’s plans to boost domestic energy supplies. The expansion would also benefit energy producers in the Rockies by allowing them to export more gas. The Rockies have long been oversupplied with hydrocarbons due to limited pipeline export capacity, keeping regional wholesale gas prices the lowest in the nation.

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