California Storage Project Moving Ahead
California regulators have taken steps to smooth the way for the
state's first merchant underground natural gas storage field, the
first wells for which are being drilled beginning this week about
50 miles north of Sacramento in a depleted dry gas field in rural
Wild Goose Storage is drilling four initial wells - one vertical
and three horizontal - and is on target to begin operations in
April of next year, according to Paul Amirault, vice president of
business development for the facility's owner, Alberta Energy Co.
in western Canada. He said the project has all of its required
regulatory and environmental permits.
The administrative clean-up issues dealt with by the California
Public Utilities Commission June 18 involved whether the
market-based storage field should be required to have a cost-based
minimum rate and pay the costs of future upgrades of Pacific Gas
and Electric's transmission pipeline facilities connected to the
In both cases there were no additional requirements placed on
the state's first nonutility storage field, Amirault said. Wild
Goose will file a minimum rate only as a formality, and it will not
be closely examined by regulators, Amirault said. The issue of who
pays for upgrades will be worked out in the future, if facility
expansion is required.
For now, both PG&E and Wild Goose agree there is ample
capacity on PG&E's transmission pipeline (Line 167) that will be
connected to the storage field by a four-mile pipeline built by the
storage field backers. Wild Goose expects initially to offer 14 Bcf
of inventory capacity, with firm withdrawal capability of 200
MMcf/d and injection capability of 80 MMcf/d.
Richard Nemec, Los Angeles
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