Sonoran Has Customers Lined Up for Gas Pipeline

From Bloomberg News

A venture between Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Calpine Corp. has attracted more than enough customers to build a $1.7-billion natural-gas pipeline for energy-starved California by the summer of 2003.

Sonoran Pipeline, the joint venture, expects to sell capacity on the 1,030-mile project within 60 days and gain federal approval by year's end, Sonoran Vice President Scott Parker said in a statement.

California, which is in the midst of an electricity shortage, depends on natural gas to fuel many of its power plants. The Sonoran line would carry enough gas to generate 9,000 megawatts of power, Calpine spokeswoman Katherine Potter said. A megawatt can light 750 California homes.

The project would deliver 750 million cubic feet of natural gas a day from gas fields in northern New Mexico to the California-Arizona border. A second segment would connect with other pipelines to deliver as much as 1 billion cubic feet a day to the San Francisco area.

Sonoran Pipeline received binding agreements and nonbinding interest for more than 1 billion cubic feet a day for the first run of pipe, and interest in 1.5 billion cubic feet a day for the second phase, the company said.

Calpine, a San Jose-based power plant developer, has committed to ship 400 million cubic feet a day on the Sonoran line for 20 years.

In New York Stock Exchange trading, Calpine shares rose $1.54 to close at $45.30, erasing this year's decline, and Houston-based Kinder Morgan's shares fell 95 cents to close at $70.05.

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