Williams Extends Pipeline To California

Friday, March 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -The Williams Cos. plans to expands its Kern River pipeline, which runs through Utah, to provide more natural gas for generating plants in California.

Williams' gas pipeline unit in Salt Lake City said Thursday that it plans to construct nearly 700 miles of additional pipeline that will run parallel to its existing Kern River line.

Construction on the $1 billion project is expected to begin next year and is scheduled for completion in May 2003, said Kirk Morgan, director of business development for Kern River pipeline.

``Shippers are seeking more access to natural gas from the Rocky Mountain basin, where producers are aggressively stepping up production,'' Morgan said.

The new pipeline is expected to deliver about 900 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to markets in Utah, Nevada and California.

Most of the gas will be used for generating plants planned in California. If all of the pipeline's capacity were used to generate electricity, it could produce about 5,400 megawatts. ``That is enough to light around 4.5 million homes,'' Morgan said.

The original Kern River line was completed in 1992. It enters Utah from Wyoming then crosses into the Salt Lake Valley near Bountiful. It turns south near the Salt Lake City International Airport then runs the length of the state before passing into southern Nevada and winding up near Bakersfield, Calif.

It currently transports 700 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Williams, based in Tulsa, Okla., recently filed an emergency application with federal regulators to install additional pumping stations on the line to increase its capacity by 135 million cubic feet per day. That $81 million pumping station project should be completed by July 1.

During the 2002 construction period, the Kern River project will employ between 1,500 and 1,800 people. The company estimates annual property taxes it pays to Utah counties will increase from $3.5 million to about $7 million.

Questar will be one of the customers on the new pipeline, Morgan said.

The utility wants to supply additional gas to southern Utah cities, including St. George and Cedar City.

``Our own pipelines serving southern Utah are at full capacity so this is an opportunity to transport additional gas into those areas from company-owned supplies in Wyoming,'' said Questar Gas spokeswoman Audra Sorensen.