NiSource Inc. unit Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. Thursday filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an expansion to help meet growing demand in the eastern United States.

Columbia's Eastern Market Expansion will expand pipeline, compression and storage networks to provide an incremental 97,050 Dth/d of storage deliverability and associated firm pipeline capacity to local gas distribution customers in Virginia and Pennsylvania. The project represents an infrastructure investment of $175 million. The project is proposed to be in service April 1, 2009.

Columbia held an open season for the expansion in August 2005 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 4, 2005).

Four gas utilities have executed 15-year agreements for the combined storage and transportation services. The total storage contract quantity associated with the expansion exceeds 5.8 million Dth. Columbia plans to expand existing storage fields in West Virginia and Ohio, install additional compression at existing facilities in West Virginia, and construct pipeline loops in West Virginia and northeastern Virginia.

"Incremental firm storage capacity in the eastern and Mid-Atlantic markets is needed to meet the robust growth demands of the region," said NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage President Christopher A. Helms. "The Eastern Market Expansion project demonstrates our ongoing commitment to provide vital gas transmission and storage services to the market and to be a key player in the development of energy infrastructure in North America."

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