BREWER, Maine — The newly expanded Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline has created a real opportunity for more Mainers to have access to natural gas, Tina Faraca, Maritimes president, said just before a Thursday ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Brewer Compressor Station.
The company began shipping natural gas between Nova Scotia and Massachusetts in 1999 and recently completed an expansion that doubles the pipeline’s capacity and opens doors for new suppliers, she said.
“It’s the cleanest-burning conventional fuel [and] it’s abundant and reliable,” Faraca said. “As we bring more supplies to the state, it will bring more opportunities for use.”
The company’s $300 million Phase IV expansion project went on line in January and has made it possible to deliver approximately 800 million cubic feet of natural gas daily to markets in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Atlantic Canada.
The expansion also has provided access to liquefied natural gas, imported into Canada through the CanaportTM LNG terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, a $1 billion project that was built in a partnership between Repsol Energy North America and Irving Oil.
The LNG is re-gasified at the Saint John terminal and shipped through the Maritimes & Northeast gas pipeline, a process that began in July, according to its Web site.
Maritimes also pumps natural gas from the Sable Offshore Energy Project off the Nova Scotia coast and the Corridor Resources’ McCully Project in southern New Brunswick.
To handle the increased capacity in Maine, five new compressor stations were needed in Eliot, Westbrook, Searsport, Wood Chopping Ridge and Brewer. Upgrades were made to two existing stations in Baileyville and Richmond with 1.7 miles of new transmission line added to Baileyville.
Brewer’s pumping station is located near the junction of Day and Lambert roads.
It’s an “unbelievable project,” said City Councilor Joseph Ferris, who lives near the pump station. “I live a couple hundred yards away and never see or hear anything.”
With the construction of the compressor station, valued at just over $50 million, the company pays more than $900,000 in taxes to the city, some of which is sheltered from state and county coffers by municipal economic development tax increment financing.
“They are our biggest taxpayer and have allowed us to build the new public safety building and do some things at the new school” and make some roadway improvements downtown, Ferris said. “We’re very fortunate.”
The expanded gas pipeline has helped diversify fuel options for homeowners and businesses in Maine, a step forward in breaking the state’s dependence on oil, Gov. John Baldacci said.
“We’ve been over a barrel for too long,” he said.
Baldacci said Maritimes & Northeast is an example to others for its environmental concerns and conscious efforts to talk with and listen to communities about the project before forging forward.
“In Maine, that’s how you do things,” he said. “Your thinking is to be commended.”
Faraca said the project would not have been possible without the support of city staff in Brewer and the other communities in Maine where the pipeline lies, state legislators, state regulatory agencies and the governor.
“You helped us all build a better pipeline,” she said. “We’re proud to be an important part of the communities where we operate. In many towns, we’re the largest taxpayer. Being part of this community is very, very important to us.”
Brewer Mayor Arthur “Archie” Verow described the pipeline project site as amazing and spectacular, but also took time to thank Maritimes & Northeast employees who donated their time to give back to the community by painting the press box at Doyle Field.
He ended by saying, “I want to say how pleased we are to welcome Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline and Spectra Energy” to town.
Maritimes & Northeast is owned by U.S.-based companies Spectra Energy, formerly known as Duke Energy Corp., and Exxon Mobil Corp. and Canadian-based energy company Emera Inc.
M&N Management Co., a subsidiary of Spectra, is responsible for the overall development and operation of the Maritimes pipeline.
The project has placed Maine at the beginning of the United State’s interstate natural gas pipeline network, Faraca said.
“What this project primarily does is not only double the capacity, but also … enables the state of Maine [to gain access] to new suppliers and ensures reliability of our supply,” she said.
Faraca added later, “We were able to do this the Maine way — efficiently, economically and safely with respect for our neighboring communities and the environment.”