New natural gas line for TransAlta switch off coal to be completed ahead of schedule

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

A new pipeline that will help two of TransAlta’s generating stations switch from coal to natural gas is expected to be completed four months ahead of schedule.

The 120-kilometre Pioneer Pipeline will connect Tidewater Midstream’s Brazeau River natural gas complex in west-central Alberta to TransAlta’s Sundance and Keephills generating stations near Edmonton.

In December 2018 TransAlta announced it would acquire 50 percent stake in the pipeline in a transaction that is expected to close before the end of June.

TransAlta and Tidewater announced Pioneer in December 2017, using Montney and Deep Basin natural gas to accelerate TransAlta’s transition off coal. Construction commenced in November 2018.

The schedule for the pipeline itself has been accelerated, Tidewater said this week, adding that the project’s capital cost has increased by approximately 10 percent as a result.

The pipeline was expected to cost $150 million when it was announced, but in December 2018 TransAlta indicated the cost had increased to $180 million.

The pipeline will have an initial throughput of 130 MMcf/d with the potential to expand to approximately 440 MMcf/d.

TransAlta says that construction of additional gas facilities at Sundance and Keephills is scheduled for 2019. Unit conversions are scheduled to start in 2020, continuing to the end of 2023.