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    Alberta Pipeline Enabling Coal-to-Gas Switch Ahead of Schedule


TransAlta expects to make full switch to gas by 2022

by: Dale Lunan

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Alberta Pipeline Enabling Coal-to-Gas Switch Ahead of Schedule

Tidewater Midstream & Infrastructure said May 14 a 120 km pipeline it is building to deliver gas to a pair of coal-fired generating stations planning a switch to natural gas is four months ahead of schedule, and will now be completed in 2Q 2019.

In its 1Q 2019 financial report, Tidewater said the Pioneer Pipeline, which will deliver natural gas from its Brazeau River complex in west-central Alberta to TransAlta’s Keephills and Sundance generating stations west of Edmonton, will now cost an estimated C$198mn (US$147mn), up 10% from the last estimate of C$180mn. Tidewater attributed the cost increase to the accelerated construction schedule and the evaluation of future expansion opportunities.

Pioneer’s initial capacity of 130mn ft3/day of natural gas will allow TransAlta to increase the amount of natural gas it co-fires at its Sundance and Keephills coal-fired units. The pipeline has the potential to expand capacity to 440mn ft3/day, which would provide most of the gas needed for full conversion of the units to natural gas, expected in the 2021-2022 timeframe.

Late last year, TransAlta exercised its option to acquire a 50% equity interest in Pioneer, at a cost of C$90mn.