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Totem Polls Colorado Market For Storage Demand

August 9, 1999
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Totem Polls Colorado Market For Storage Demand

With retail energy competition around the corner and power generation growing by leaps and bounds, Colorado is in need of new gas storage capacity, according to Brandt Energy President Michael G. Wright.

Wright, one of the designers of the Wild Goose Storage project in California, is teaming up with Star Natural Gas, Renegade Oil & Gas, and Fairchild, Ancell & Wells, to develop Colorado's first independent gas storage facility. Called Totem Gas Storage, the project will be located about 12 miles east of the Denver Airport in a depleted gas field in the J Sand reservoir of the Denver Julesburg Basin and will target growing power generation load and marketers serving customers along the Front Range.

There's currently a dearth of storage in the state, and what is there is either under contract or being used by the local utility, said Wright. Totem will be one of only six storage fields in the state, which currently totals about 40 Bcf of working gas capacity and only 1 Bcf/d of deliverability.

The Totem project will have one of the highest deliverability rates of any of the existing facilities. "We have pretty good permeability and porosity, and we're able to come up with a deliverability of over 200 MMcf/d," said Wright. "It will have to reach about half of the 9 Bcf of working gas capacity before deliverability starts falling off.

"One of the things we'll be able to do is to inject and withdraw gas on any day at any point in the year, which is different than the other reservoirs, which have active water drives," he said. "There's a requirement that they have to get their gas out every year otherwise they may lose it behind the water." Wright said Totem will have sufficient injection capability to provide a minimum of two cycles per year.

There will be a greater need for the flexibility Totem will provide as gas and electric competition heats up in the state, Wright noted. "Any marketer, gas supplier or trader that plans on supplying small commercial or residential loads is going to have to have swing and balancing capabilities.

Totem also hopes to serve a number of power projects being developed in response to a shortfall in power supply last summer and resulting brownouts.

Storage developers expect the project to be in service in the second quarter of 2001 with connections to Colorado Interstate Gas and PSCo. Wright said Totem has filed an application with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for approval to convert the field into a storage facility and will apply with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for market-based rates. Totem currently is holding an informal open season. For details call Wright at (214) 954-1886, or email him at mgwrit1@aol.com.

Rocco Canonica

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