Long-awaited pipeline funnels gas across 8 states

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2009 8:47 AM

A 1,679-mile pipeline crossing eight states is now fully completed and funneling natural gas from Wyoming and Colorado to the eastern edge of Ohio.

The long-awaited Rockies Express Pipeline became fully operational Nov. 12 following the recent completion of the final 195-mile section between Warren and Monroe counties in eastern Ohio. The $6.8 billion pipeline carries 1.8 billion cubic feet of gas, enough to heat 4 million homes, and took three years to complete.

Wyoming gas producers and state officials are hopeful that the ability to export more gas to markets in the East will mean better prices and revenue.

"We have for a long time in Wyoming wanted to get, with the gas we produce, farther east," Gov. Dave Freudenthal said in a news conference Tuesday with pipeline officials. "This does it for us."

Insufficient pipeline capacity is one reason why prices at the Opal Hub in western Wyoming have lagged behind prices at other natural gas pricing points such as the Henry Hub in Louisiana. The new pipeline also runs through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Thanks in part to the Rockies Express, prices at the Opal hub have tracked more closely to prices at other hubs since last summer, said Mark Doelger, a former Wyoming Pipeline Authority chairman who had a hand in the project.

The authority initially committed $3 billion in bonds but the project got enough private investors so that the agency never had to sell them.

Houston-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners built the pipeline and owns 50 percent of it. Sempra Pipelines and Storage, a unit of San Diego-based Sempra, and Houston-based ConocoPhillips each has a 25-percent stake in the pipeline.