Sabal Trail gas pipeline commences operations in Florida, US

The Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline has started operations in Florida, US, following approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The 515-mile interstate pipeline transports natural gas from an interconnection with the Transco pipeline in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, to the Central Florida Hub in Osceola County, Florida.

Sabal Trail forms a part of the three pipeline projects collectively known as the Southeast market pipelines, which are expected to increase the natural gas transport capacity to Florida.

Additional natural gas is planned to be diverted to its power plants, and will then flow into Florida.

The first phase of the Sabal pipeline is expected to have a total capacity of 810 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), with a further capacity expansion to 1,050 MMcf/d also planned through the next two phases.

Phase II of the pipeline is scheduled for completion in 2020 and will see the addition of two new compressor stations, while Phase III will include expansions to existing compressor stations and is expected to be completed in 2021.

"The first phase of the Sabal pipeline is expected to have a total capacity of 810 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d)."

Transco’s Hillabee expansion project and NextEra’s Florida Southeast connection form the remaining projects that comprise the Southeast market pipelines.

Phase I of the Hillabee expansion provided natural gas to Sabal Trail via the addition of 800 MMcf/d of capacity to the Transco line in Alabama, while the second and third phases, which are scheduled for completion in 2020 and 2021 respectively, are expected to increase capacity by a combined 300MMcf/d.

Meanwhile, Florida Southeast connection can transport 640 MMcf/d of natural gas to Indiantown in southern Florida.

The development of natural gas pipelines and the increase in capacity in Florida comes after the older coal and oil fired capacity has been put out of use, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

It is expected that around 3.9 GW of natural gas-fired capacity will be available in Florida over the next six years.