Spectra Energy (SE) and master limited partnership Spectra Energy Partners (SEP) announced today plans to expand two existing pipeline systems in the Northeast United States to connect natural gas supplies with demanding markets in the region.

The project is based on an agreement between Spectra Energy and Unitil, a natural gas distribution company in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. However, the release notes that Spectra's commitment to the project creates ample room for other customers to add on their natural gas demand capacities to the expansion.

"Spectra Energy's pipeline systems are strategically positioned to answer New England's need for additional domestic, clean-burning natural gas," said Bill Yardley, Spectra Energy's president of U.S. Transmission and Storage. "We are able to expand our existing facilities, mostly within their current footprint, and be operational by 2017. The additional supply will keep prices lower overall, while also dampening future gas and electricity price volatility, generating savings for homeowners, manufacturers and businesses."

Spectra Energy has set an in-service target date for what's been dubbed the "Atlantic Bridge project" of November 2017, by which time it hopes to have filed up slots for the 100,000 dekatherms per day addition to its current system. Depending on shipper requests, it may consider more commitments for 2018.