TC Energy gets green light to expand Canadian gas supply to U.S. Pacific Northwest

GTN Xpress project to improve energy security in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California

By Deborah Jaremko
Natural gas compressor station. Photo courtesy TC Energy

The green light has been given to an expansion of natural gas delivery from Alberta and British Columbia to communities in Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho.  

Upgrading TC Energy’s existing Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline system is necessary to ensure energy availability and affordability in the future, according to supporters in Oregon and Idaho. 

Without the project, Oregon utility Cascade Natural Gas told regulators it won’t have enough supply to meet growing demand as early as 2024.  

“Projects such as GTN XPress will help ensure we have the energy needed to grow our economy in a way that is delivered safely and reliably,” said Sharla Moffett, senior policy director with Oregon Business & Industry. 

In Idaho, congressman Russ Fulcher said “simple projects to increase supply are finally moving forward for Idahoans to increase energy reliability.”  

GTN is a 2,200-kilometre pipeline system extending from the B.C. border with Idaho through Washington to Oregon’s border with California. The region is home to more than 50 million people. 

Map courtesy TC Energy

Led by California, the states consume about three trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year, or about eight per cent of U.S. demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

Despite a rising share of renewable energy in California’s power mix, it is America’s second largest consumer of natural gas, second only to Texas in 2022.  

Natural gas supply to the region comes from Canada as well as Rockies states led by Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.  

But supply from U.S. Rockies resources is declining, producing 3.4 trillion cubic feet in 2022, down from 3.8 trillion in 2019, according to the EIA. 

That’s one of the reasons for the US$75 million GTN Xpress project, which TC Energy and its partners say will meet rising residential, commercial, and industrial demand, particularly in Oregon. 

In late October the project received approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  

It will add 150 million cubic feet per day of capacity to the system, which recently achieved an all-time delivery record of 2.96 billion cubic feet per day. 

Recently completed expansion work in Alberta and B.C. known as the West Path Delivery Program enables the project to proceed. 

GTN Xpress has 30-year transport agreements for its full capacity with two local distribution companies and Tourmaline, Canada’s largest natural gas producer.  

Tourmaline told FERC the expansion will help meet energy demand in the region when intermittent renewables, such as wind and solar, are not available. 

The regulator stated in its decision that the project proponents “amply demonstrated” the need for GTN Xpress. 

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