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Liberty Storage Gets Third Reprieve -- Until Late 2009

FERC last Wednesday approved Liberty Gas Storage LLC's third request to push back the in-service date for its 17 Bcf project in Louisiana that would tie in with an affiliated liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Cameron, LA.

The storage project, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy, originally was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in December 2005 and was supposed to be completed in mid-2007 (see NGI, Dec. 12, 2005). However Liberty Gas has sought and received three deadline extensions, with the latest giving it until Dec. 31, 2009 to have the storage project completed and in service.

Last month when Sempra Energy reported its third quarter earnings, it indicated that the storage project may have to be shelved if it can't find an engineering solution to cavern development problems (see NGI, Nov. 17). However, this was not mentioned in its FERC filing.

While Liberty Gas said it has "completed and placed into service pipeline facilities and a remote compressor station to enable it to provide interruptible wheeling and parking services to its customers," it reports that "it [has] encountered unexpected delays in the completion of its two natural gas storage caverns. Specifically, Liberty continues to experience pressure losses with respect to both caverns and, as a result, has not yet completed its underground natural gas storage caverns," wrote Williams L. Zoller of FERC's Office of Energy Projects to the company [CP05-92].

"For good cause shown, Liberty is granted an extension of time to Dec. 31, 2009 to make its storage facilities available for service," he said.

The project entails the conversion of two existing brine solution mining caverns to high-deliverability gas storage caverns. The facility would have 17.6 Bcf of working gas capacity, with the capability to deliver at a rate of about 1 Bcf/d and inject at a rate of approximately 500 MMcf/d.

It also includes a 1.3-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline that would connect the gas storage cavern wells to a new on-site compressor station in Calcasieu Parish, LA, and the construction of a new compressor station in Beauregard Parish, LA.

In addition, the storage project calls for the construction of a new 23.3-mile, 30-inch diameter bidirectional pipeline header system in Calcasieu Parish that would interconnect with up to seven interstate pipeline systems, including Florida Gas Transmission, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Texas Eastern Transmission, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and Trunkline Gas, in Calcasieu and Beauregard parishes.

The project, when completed, would have access to more than 8 Bcf/d of interstate pipeline capacity linked to multiple markets and would be adjacent to significant industrial loads that have been under increasing pressure to stabilize their natural gas costs, according to Liberty Gas Storage.

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