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Pipeline builder Williams Partners eyes another line in Pennsylvania

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The company seeking to build a natural gas pipeline through Lebanon and Lancaster counties is looking to see if there is interest in another expansion of the Transco pipeline that would supply Marcellus Shale natural gas to Northeast markets.

Williams Partners LP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Williams Companies, announced the start of an open season, which started Tuesday and lasts through Sept. 23, for the Diamond East project. Open season means that the company is seeking companies interested in buying capacity in the potential line, indicating whether it would be worth building.

The Diamond East project would be online by mid-2018, assuming there is enough interest and the project receives the necessary regulatory approvals, according to a news release from Williams. The project would create additional compressor stations and pipeline loops along the existing Transco pipeline corridor.

The Transco runs from the New York metro area to the Gulf of Mexico. Originally, the line had transported natural gas south to north. The goal with this and other projects is to have the gas also flow south, allowing Marcellus Shale natural gas to be transported to markets along the Eastern Seaboard.

Although the final capacity, scope and cost of the project will be determined by the results of the open season, the release states, the project likely will include about 50 miles of pipeline looping and horsepower additions at existing Transco compressor stations. The cost is estimated at between $500 million to $800 million, depending on customer participation and volume commitments, according to the release.

The line would provide up to 1 billion cubic feet per day of transportation capacity from points along the Leidy Line in Lycoming and Luzerne counties to Williams’ market pool in Mercer County, N.J., according to the release. There, it would supply natural gas to distribution companies and power generators in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

Diamond East is in addition to the $3.3 billion in capital expenditures Williams has planned through 2017 related to getting natural gas to the Northeast. In the midstate, the company is working on getting approval for the Atlantic Sunrise project.

That project, made up of the Central Penn South and Central Penn North sections, stretches from Susquehanna County through Lebanon County to connect to the main Transco line in Lancaster County. Williams has not yet filed a formal application for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has say over whether and where it would be constructed. There has been strong landholder opposition to the project in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

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