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Sempra's Liberty Gas Storage to Be Ready in Summer

Sempra Energy's two-salt dome cavern, 17 Bcf Liberty Gas Storage project in Louisiana will be ready for injections late this summer, a San Diego, CA-based spokesperson for the energy holding company told NGI. Even with recent delays (see NGI, May 19), construction work continues at the site.

Liberty is a separate, independent facility linked by pipeline to Sempra's liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal in the final months of construction at Cameron, LA.

The spokesperson offered a little more detail on the recent delays saying there was additional work required on at least one of the caverns at the site, which is also targeted for expansion in the 2009-12 time frame. Sempra has been active in pipeline and storage projects for the past four years in the Henry Hub area which is part of the LNG terminal's immediate market area.

Four years ago a Sempra unit purchased Pine Prairie Energy Center, a three-salt dome cavern, 24 Bcf underground storage operation close to Henry Hub, the nation's largest natural gas trading center. It sold the facility along with one in Michigan for $250 million in the summer of 2005 (see NGI, Sept. 19, 2005; Sept. 5, 2005).

In the same rough time frame Sempra Pipelines & Storage signed binding agreements to construct, own and operate Cameron Intrastate Pipeline, a 35-mile, 36-inch diameter gas pipeline linking the Cameron LNG terminal to interstate and intrastate pipelines in and around Henry Hub. It also began developing Liberty Gas Storage, which was to be located about 200 yards from the Cameron pipeline and at that time was expected to operating in 2006, while the LNG terminal and interconnecting interstate pipeline have always been targeted for in-service in 2008.

In its latest 10Q filing to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier in May, Sempra said its pipelines and storage business are expected to require funding from the company or external sources, or both, to continue work on Liberty and other natural gas storage projects, along with its participation in the Rockies Express Pipeline and its planned development of pipelines serving its Cameron LNG facility.

"The [long-ago announced] sale of interests in Argentina [in two natural gas distribution companies] is expected to provide cash for company projects," the SEC filing said.

Earlier web-based communications had targeted April 2008 for the start of the injections at the Liberty facility.

Liberty is touted as being designed for a 1 Bcf/d withdrawal and 500 MMcf/d injection capability. "By way of a bidirectional 30-inch diameter pipeline, this project will have access to more than 5 Bcf/d of interstate pipeline capacity linked to multiple markets," a Sempra fact sheet on the project said.

Early in 2007 Sempra Pipelines & Storage and ProLiance Transportation and Storage LLC held a joint venture open season seeking market interest in expansion capacity at their Liberty facility in Calcasieu Parish, LA (see NGI, Feb. 19, 2007). With what the partners are calling "strong market response" to the existing 17 Bcf capacity at Liberty and unabated thirst for more gas storage along the Gulf of Mexico coast, Sempra Energy and ProLiance are offering an additional 5 Bcf at the facility.

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