E&P / Rockies/Other / Shale Daily / Powder River Basin

WBI Seeking to Shutter PRB’s Billy Creek Natural Gas Storage Field

Bismarck, ND-based WBI Energy Transmission Inc. is requesting authorization from FERC to abandon the Billy Creek Storage Field in Wyoming's Powder River Basin (PRB), including associated injected and recoverable native cushion gas and associated facilities there.

In a notice posted Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said WBI, a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group Inc., also asked for permission to "construct, install, modify and/or operate certain pipeline facilities to facilitate the withdrawal of the cushion gas prior to the abandonment of the storage facilities," in Johnson County, WY, in the northwest part of the PRB [CP17-469].

"The storage field has become unreliable due to water encroachment, making it incapable of providing firm storage service," WBI’s Lori Myerchin, manager for regulatory affairs, said in a filing posted in late June. "The firm storage deliverability previously provided by the storage field is now provided by another WBI Energy Transmission storage field; therefore, [Billy Creek] is no longer actively providing storage service” to any WBI customers.

According to Myerchin, the Billy Creek field has a certificated 2.4 Bcf of combined injected and recoverable native cushion gas. After the initial drawdown, if WBI determines it is "reasonable and prudent" to continue with efforts to recover the remaining 2.25 Bcf of cushion gas, the company could use or modify the existing storage facilities, install a replacement compressor unit, or drill a gas recovery well within the northern portion of the field.

"Any one or combination of these options may be utilized until [WBI] determines that continued cushion gas recovery efforts are no longer warranted," Myerchin said.

WBI is anticipating a withdrawal rate of 1,000 Mcf/d. The company plans to abandon in place most of the pipeline in the field and remove some sections of pipeline and above-ground facilities. WBI would also modify an existing interconnect at the Billy Creek Compressor Station with Black Hills Gas Distribution LLC. A customer service connection to a local residence may also need to be modified.

Besides Billy Creek, WBI operates underground storage reservoirs in Montana's Cedar Creek (Baker) Field and Wyoming's Elk Basin Field.

WBI has expanded its takeaway capacity for natural gas in the Bakken Shale six-fold since 2010, and it anticipates having significant capacity additions online by late next year. In late June, the company announced a $27-30 million plan to expand its Line Section 27 natural gas transportation system in the Bakken in northwestern North Dakota. The expansion includes constructing about 13 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline and associated facilities, increasing the line's capacity to more than 600 MMcf/d.

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