Oral argument on TransCanada PipeLines Limited’s application for Dawn long term fixed price (LTFP) service on the TransCanada Mainline has been delayed to Sept. 11, 2017, from Aug. 29, 2017, the National Energy Board said Wednesday.

Although the streamlined regulatory process initially had provided for only one round of information requests, the board in a letter to the parties said it had decided to grant on an expedited basis a request from Union Gas Limited to add a second round of IRs.

In its letter, the NEB said it is of the view that the responses to the initial round of IRs “raised some new and detailed information on the record,” and that it would be fair to allow intervenors to seek further clarifications on this information. However, intervenors are not to ask questions on cost or revenue allocations and toll impacts beyond 2020 as “they would be too speculative to be helpful,” said the board.

In opposing a second round of information requests, TransCanada argued that any delay in the proceeding could prejudice its ability to begin Dawn service on schedule. “Such an outcome would be contrary to the public interest,” it said, “given the importance and time-sensitivity of this new service.”

Dawn LTFP service was offered to all prospective shippers through an open season in which a total of 1.5 petajoules per day of new long-haul contracts were executed with 23 parties, all of whom are producers in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin looking for new markets, TransCanada said in its application (DOB, April 26, 2017).

The shippers had requested a Nov. 1, 2017, start to the service, which coincides with the start of the gas year and 2017/2018 winter service as well as the expected in-service date of new infrastructure, said TransCanada. It also pointed out that shippers had said they require sufficient time in advance of the starting date to facilitate their commercial arrangements.

However, the NEB, which also issued a revised hearing schedule, said while the timetable has been extended, in its view the application can still be adjudicated by Nov. 1, 2017, the planned starting date for the service.

In its motion requesting the second IR round, Union argued the TransCanada application did not provide sufficient and adequate information for evaluating the impact of the new service on existing Mainline shippers and that the TransCanada IR responses presented significant new information. These require further testing by way of additional intervenor questions, it said.

According to Union, the application has far-reaching implications for the Mainline given the magnitude of the volumes involved, the 10-year term of the proposed service, the significant affiliate contracting involved [on Great Lakes Gas Transmission] and the complex operational facts — the nature of which have only come to light for the first time in information responses.

“The matters raised by this evidence are complex and in many instances, interrelated, which reinforces the need for further discovery,” said the LDC, which had submitted 61 pages of IRs. (Enbridge Gas Distribution, which supported Union’s motion, had submitted 188 pages of IRs.)

TransCanada disputed Union’s suggestion that the application was complex. “Union is again attempting to characterize the application as more complex than it is for its own purposes,” said TransCanada. “This does not align with the facts.”

The application, it said, seeks only approval of the Dawn LTFP service, which is precisely the type of new service that the board’s streamlined regulatory service was designed to address.

“The fact that intervenors chose to submit over IRs to TransCanada and that TransCanada’s responses were consequently voluminous does not justify a second round of IRs.”

For its part, Union countered that “the depth and breadth of the information requests filed by nine intervenors underscores the fact that the pre-application process was deficient in providing stakeholders with the information necessary to assess the impact of the application upon their interests.”

The subject matter, it said, related to implementation of the new service in both the United States and Canada, the various factors bearing on the least-cost/maximum benefit transportation paths and other aspects of the application.

In response to an IR, TransCanada said it expects the board to issue a decision on the application in advance of Nov. 1, 2017, but should there be delay in the issuance of the decision, the company would delay the start of Dawn service. TransCanada said it has not yet determined how long the implementation of Dawn LTFP service could reasonably be delayed, but would seek to implement as soon as possible after Nov. 1, 2017.

In addition to LDCs such as Union and Enbridge Gas Distribution, 18 parties have registered as intervenors. They include the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers along with four producers — Birchcliff Energy Ltd., Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Encana Corporation and Tourmaline Oil Corp.

Other intervenors include the Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec governments as well as TransCanada customers, the Industrial Gas Users Association and even a rival pipeline, Rover Pipeline LLC.