Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ) and its wholly-owned subsidiary Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) today announced Gulf Trace, a 1.2 million dekatherm per day expansion of the Transco pipeline system to serve the Cheniere Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: CQP) Sabine Pass Liquefaction project being developed in Cameron Parish, La. The Sabine Pass LNG terminal will connect U.S. natural gas supplies with global LNG markets.
Transco has executed an agreement with Sabine Pass Liquefaction L.C. as the anchor shipper, which provides a transportation contract quantity that is sufficient to proceed with execution of the Gulf Trace project. A binding open season to gauge additional market interest in the expansion is scheduled to conclude on May 8, 2014.
"Gulf Trace is a pivotal project at an extremely important time for Transco and the U.S. natural gas industry as a whole," said Rory Miller, senior vice president of Williams Partners' Atlantic-Gulf operating area. "Gulf Trace is designed to ensure we continue to serve our existing customers who rely on natural gas from the Gulf Coast, while adding a very large, long-term market commitment in an area of Transco's system that is seeing decreased utilization due to changing gas supply patterns in the United States."
The Sabine Pass LNG export facilities are currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in phases starting as early as the fourth quarter of 2015. Once complete, the Sabine Pass LNG terminal will be the first large-scale LNG export facility in operation in the United States. Sabine Pass Liquefaction's project is supported by long-term contacts with several LNG off-take shippers and is expected to provide LNG for export to diverse markets overseas.
The Gulf Trace project will make Transco's production area mainline and southwest Louisiana lateral systems bi-directional from Station 65 in St. Helena Parish, La. to Cameron Parish, La. In addition to the pipeline reversal, a new, 8-mile 36-inch lateral pipeline and two new compressor stations are planned in order to provide firm transportation service to the Sabine Pass LNG facility.
The estimated project cost for Gulf Trace is approximately $300 million and the target in-service date is early 2017, subject to timely receipt of all necessary or required approvals by regulatory bodies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Unrelated to Gulf Trace, Transco is pursuing several other large-volume projects to serve growing domestic demand for natural gas. By year-end 2017, Williams Partners expects to add approximately 3.4 million dekatherms of natural gas transportation capacity from northeast supplies to high-value growth markets with mainline expansions that include the Dalton Expansion Project, Atlantic Sunrise, Leidy Southeast, Virginia Southside and others.