CA's First Merchant Gas Storage Set to Open
Wild Goose Storage, California's first merchant natural gas
storage facility, is set to begin operations April 1, at the same
time the state's second merchant storage project gets a public
airing of its 18 Bcf proposal.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is scheduled
to act March 18 on market-based tariffs for Wild Goose Storage. The
project's Canadian backers are being cautious in their public
discussion about the numbers of customers and volumes they have
under contract for the field, which is using part of a depleted dry
gas field 50 miles north of Sacramento.
"Everything is looking very good," said Ben Ledene, marketing
vice president for Alberta Energy Corp., backer of the new storage
field. "We're very pleased from what we have seen from the
reservoir and the facilities. We're in the process of providing
training sessions for our customers so they understand all the
"We really haven't had any surprises. It has gone much better
than anybody could have thought it would. It is working out at
least as well as expected if not better."
Nevertheless, Ledene hinted that the facility is
under-subscribed for its initial months of operation, but he
stressed that they want to make sure they provide high quality
service to all of their customers during the initial months of
start up and "working out the bugs." Ledene described it as
"contracting a bit conservatively" for the first year.
Offering services to a variety of utilities, marketers, shippers
and large industrial customers, Wild Goose provides 14 Bcf of
inventory, with firm withdrawal capability of 200 MMcf/d and
injection of 80 MMcf/d through four wells (one vertical and three
horizontal). An 18-inch-diameter, four-mile pipeline links the
facility to Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s transmission pipeline in
the area. The new, permanent compressors have been installed and
are expected to be started by mid-March, Ledene said. Temporary
compressors used this winter to test injection and withdrawal are
now being removed. Metering, dehydration and water removal
equipment all will be tested this month in preparation for the
"We expect that customers will have us injecting gas during the
first three or four months," Ledene said. "They probably won't have
us withdrawing gas at first, but you never know."
Ledene added Wild Goose is looking at other possible sites in
California and elsewhere in the U.S. We're looking around, and
there are lot of opportunities."
For the $80 million Lodi storage facility sponsored by Western
Hub Resources, the CPUC is holding public meetings this week to
settle environmental issues. This second merchant storage facility
for California will use a depleted underground natural gas field,
located five miles northeast of Lodi, to store 18 Bcf. It also
plans to build a compression station. The proposed storage facility
would have a 6 Bcf working capacity and 200 MMcf/d injection and
withdrawal capacities. All of those numbers may double if there is
sufficient customer interest between now and when the project gains
CPUC approvals, Western Hub said.
The company set Oct. 1 as its goal for the facility's CPUC
certification. The commission said it is too early to give a
timetable. One contentious issue is the planned 24-inch-diameter,
30-mile pipeline intended to hook in with PG&E's gas
transmission operations. It will run through private property, and
many landowners have objected.
Rich Nemec, Los Angeles