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Ozark Natural Gas to build 40-mile pipeline

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by Carol Harris

SBJ Contributing Writer

Ozark Natural Gas Inc. will begin construction of a new 40-mile transmission pipeline from Springfield to Branson in November, pending the approval of financing, according to Steve Shute, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., partner and vice-president of the company.

Shute said the company received certification from the Missouri Public Service Commission in August to proceed with the construction of the $18 million utility project.

Shute said Ozark Natural Gas will connect with Williams Natural Gas at Campbell and Weaver roads south of Springfield.

"We will transmit off of Williams Natural Gas. It's also the long-distance transporter to the city of Springfield," he said.

The transmission pipeline, eight inches in diameter, will closely follow U.S. Highway 160, providing service to Highlandville, Spokane, Reeds Spring, Branson West, Branson and Hollister. Shute said the natural gas pipeline will end at the College of the Ozarks, in Point Lookout.

"We plan to serve all the little rural communities. Ultimately, we would like to serve Kimberling City and go east to Forsyth, Rockaway Beach and Merriam Woods," he said. Shute estimated the transmission pipeline will take only a couple of months to build.

"A lot of it will be in the public right of way," he said.

Thereafter, the company will build distribution lines to residential and commercial customers, starting in the Highlandville area.

"I just met with the city of Branson. I told the Branson City Council, if all goes as planned, we will be in Branson in about six months," Shute said.

Ozark Natural Gas was franchised as a utility in both Branson and Hollister in 1987.

"We still have a valid franchise with both communties," he said. Shute said he has also been meeting with Hollister city officials. "Hollister is looking into forming a municipal gas company. If they don't do it, we will probably do something ourselves."

Shute said the company's target customers will be those who already have propane gas systems which can be readily converted to natural gas. He said the company also hopes to potentially work with such customers as the College of the Ozarks, which is currently burning No. 6 fuel oil.

Shute said he is partners in Ozark Natural Gas with Bob Oxford and CIRCA Energy.

He said they also have natural gas projects in Washington, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina and Colorado.

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