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Friday, April 07, 2006 11:54 AM ET
Dominion Cove Point accuses Washington Gas of 'patent delay tactic'
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Washington Gas Light Co.Washington, District of Columbia
Dominion Energy Inc. (D-US)$ 84.07
Dominion Energy Cove Point LNG LPLusby, Maryland
Last Updated: 1/23/2020

Washington Gas Light Co. has asked FERC for additional time to respond to the commission's questions about leaks on its distribution system, which the gas utility contends are related to the quality of natural gas delivered into its distribution system from the Cove Point LNG import terminal in Maryland.

Dominion Cove Point LNG LP, the owner of the LNG import terminal, and its affiliate, Dominion Transmission Inc., argue that Washington Gas' request for more time is a stalling tactic, designed to hinder Dominion Cove Point's planned expansion of the import terminal.

The two Dominion Resources Inc. subsidiaries said in an April 4 filing to FERC that Washington Gas' "failure to provide even partial information" to FERC's March 24 data requests "is a patent delay tactic and should be rejected as a further attempt to derail the timely processing of Dominion's application for construction of much-needed energy infrastructure."

In an April 3 filing, Washington Gas told FERC that it would not be able to provide responses within the required 10 days of the March 24 data requests. "Many of the requested documents are not readily available to Washington Gas, but rather, must be procured through a search of physical files (in some cases from periods going back to the 1960s) or electronic files," the company explained.

Washington Gas, a subsidiary of WGL Holdings Inc., said it expects that it will be able to provide a complete response to all of the commission's questions by April 18.

Washington Gas delivers natural gas to more than 1 million customers in the Washington, D.C., region. In order to protect the integrity of its distribution system from a substantial increase in LNG volumes, Washington Gas said it wants FERC to impose conditions on a pending Cove Point expansion application that would help to ensure the interchangeability of LNG from Cove Point with domestic gas supplies.

In its application, Dominion asked FERC to approve an increase in the Cove Point facility's daily output capacity to 1.8 Bcf/d from 1 Bcf/d. Storage capacity at the terminal would increase to about 14.5 Bcf. Cove Point now has 7.8 Bcf of LNG tank storage.

In its data requests, FERC noted, among other things, that the total number of leaks experienced by Washington Gas in 2003 was 562, or an increase of about 55% from the 363 leaks experienced in 2002. Washington Gas previously noted, however, that "total compression-related leaks experienced by Washington Gas spiked to 531 in 1999 from 359 the previous year, or an increase of 48%, when LNG was not flowing through the Cove Point pipeline," FERC said. "What does Washington Gas attribute to the cause of the 'substantial increase' in leaks rates in compression coupling experienced in 1999?" the commission asked.

Dominion urged FERC to deny Washington Gas' motion for an extension and continue to "expeditiously process" the pending Cove Point certificate applications.

"The staff has simply sought information and documents underlying specifically identified assertions made by WGL, either in this proceeding or in a WGL-commissioned study," Dominion said. "The fact that no supporting information is readily available casts serious doubt on the validity of WGL's allegations." (CP05-130)


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