Looking to create more flexibility while balancing the U.S. natural gas supply and demand dynamic, Spectra Energy said Thursday that it has filed an application with FERC outlining its previously announced plans to significantly expand the capacity of its proposed storage facility located in Copiah County, MS.

The Copiah Project is currently certificated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a 3.3 Bcf single-cavern facility. The new application will increase the working capacity of the proposed salt cavern storage to 15.5 Bcf of natural gas, enhancing energy reliability and security throughout the eastern United States, said Houston-based Spectra Energy, which comprises the former natural gas businesses of Duke Energy. In December, the company said it expected the Copiah facility's full capacity to be available by 2012.

With its strategic location, the company said the Copiah Project will offer customers access to several supply options including growing onshore supply, liquefied natural gas and Gulf of Mexico sources. The proposed expansion will interconnect Copiah's high deliverability storage facility with Spectra Energy's Texas Eastern Transmission system pipeline and, as part of the project, with the proposed Southeast Supply Header Project. The proposed storage facility is strategically located between the emerging Perryville Hub and Gulf Coast supplies and growing markets in the Southeast and Northeast.

"We recognize the importance of natural gas storage in balancing the nation's energy needs," said Mark Fiedorek, Spectra Energy's group vice president, Southeast Transmission and Storage. "Expanding the Copiah Project will increase the security and flexibility of natural gas supplies throughout the Southeast while providing new supply options to markets in the Northeast. With more than 265 Bcf of storage capacity, we bring a tremendous amount of experience and expertise to building and operating these facilities safely and responsibly."

Spectra Energy's application seeks to amend its current federal authorization (see Daily GPI, June 13, 2002). Proposed facilities include two natural gas storage caverns each with approximately 7.75 Bcf of working capacity; four saltwater disposal wells; four freshwater supply wells; a compressor station; approximately 15 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline; and two meter stations.

The company announced its intention in December to expand its Gulf Coast salt cavern storage facilities by more than 35 Bcf over the next six years (see Daily GPI, Dec. 7, 2006). Last month, Spectra Energy filed an application with FERC to add a fourth cavern at its Market Hub-Egan gas storage facility, which will ultimately increase working gas capacity by one-third to 32 Bcf (see Daily GPI, Feb. 22). The company is also looking to expand capacity at its Moss Bluff storage facility in Liberty county, TX by 8 Bcf by 2011, bringing total capacity there to 23 Bcf.

Spectra Energy operates 17,500 miles of transmission pipeline, 265 Bcf of storage, natural gas gathering and processing, natural gas liquids operations and local distribution assets. The company also has a 50% stake in DCP Midstream, one of the largest natural gas gatherers and processors in the United States.

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