FERC last Monday gave environmental clearance to Columbia Gas Transmission Corp.'s proposal to expand natural gas storage and pipeline facilities in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia to meet growing demand in the eastern United States.

"Approval of the proposed project, with appropriate mitigating measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment," Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff concluded in the environmental assessment of the Columbia Eastern Market Expansion [CP07-367].

The project calls for the expansion of the existing Crawford Storage Field in Fairfield and Hocking counties, OH; expansion of the existing Coco A and C Storage Fields in Kanawha County, WV; installation of 35,091 horsepower and upgrades at four existing compressor stations in West Virginia; and construction of three sections of 26- to 36-inch diameter pipeline looping totaling 15.26 miles in Clay and Randolph counties, WV, and in Warren, Clarke and Fauquier counties, VA.

The expansion would provide an additional 97,050 Dth/d of storage deliverability and associated firm pipeline transportation capacity to local distribution customers in Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to Columbia Gas, a NiSource Inc. pipeline. The project represents an infrastructure investment of $175 million, and is targeted for in-service April 1, 2009.

Four gas utilities have executed 15-year agreements for the combined storage and transportation services, Columbia Gas said. The total storage contract quantity associated with the expansion exceeds 5.8 million Dth.

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