FERC on Tuesday issued a certificate to allow Hardy Storage Co. LLC to develop and operate a new 12.4 Bcf underground natural gas storage facility in two partially depleted gas production fields in West Virginia. The Commission also approved a companion request by Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. to construct and operate transmission facilities to deliver the gas to parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia (Docket No. CP05-144-000).

In April, Hardy Storage, working with NiSource and Piedmont Natural Gas, requested approval to develop and operate a new storage facility in Hardy and Hampshire counties in West Virginia (see Daily GPI, April 27). In a companion application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Columbia requested authorization to provide firm transportation service in Hardy County, WV, as well as Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Greene and Louisa counties in Virginia and Baltimore County, MD.

The project, estimated to cost $121.89 million, will consist of two storage pools: the Lost River pool, which contains 11 inactive wells a few miles from Columbia's Lost River Compressor Station; and the Inkerman pool, which contains four inactive wells beginning about 20 miles north of the Lost River station. The storage field will have capacity to deliver up to 176,000 Dth/d of gas. According to the FERC order, the system will include 29 new or reconditioned storage wells and 36.9 miles of pipeline. A new 13-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline will connect the field to Columbia's transmission system.

Service would be phased in beginning in April 2007, and the storage field is expected to operate at 57% of capacity in its first year of operation, with withdrawal capability of up to 100,000 Dth/d during the 2007-2008 heating season. It is expected to reach at 85% of its ultimate working gas capacity in the 2008-2009 winter season, with withdrawal capability of up to 150,000 Dth/d. And it is expected to be completed by the 2009-2010 winter season, with up to 176,000 Dth/d of withdrawal capability. The ramp up of storage capability was announced in an open season, which Hardy said resulted in full subscription under 15-year contracts. Hardy proposes to provide open access storage services.

Columbia's proposed pipeline facilities will be constructed in two phases, with modification of its existing pipeline at the Lost River station beginning in 2006. Major construction of new pipelines and looping will begin in 2007, Columbia said.

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