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Increased Storage Capacity Sends Market Hub's Earnings Up

Increased Storage Capacity Sends Market Hub's Earnings Up

NiSource Inc.'s Market Hub Partners Storage L.P. (MHP) saw its net income rise 13% to $2.6 million for the first quarter of this year, up from $2.3 for the first quarter of 1999. Revenues rose to $8.2 million, up from $8 million last year at the Houston subsidiary, mostly because of expanded working gas storage capacity at its Moss Bluff, TX and Egan, LA natural gas storage facilities.

Working gas storage capacity at the two operating facilities increased to nearly 22.7 Bcf, up from nearly 20.8 Bcf for the same period last year. And, the company reportedly is continuing to expand its program to increase its working gas storage capacity at its facilities to 24 Bcf.

While capacity is up, actual gas storage appears to be down from a year ago. NiSource's wholly owned subsidiary EnergyUSA, which also lists MHP as a subsidiary, reports on its website that total current gas storage for the corporation last week was about 1200 Bcf, down from 1999's figure of more than 1500 Bcf. In 1998, actual gas storage was listed as approximately 1300 Bcf, and in 1997, it was about 800 Bcf.

The company's operating expenses for the first three months of this year decreased to $3.4 million from $3.7 million last year, related primarily to a decrease in depreciation and amortization from changing the estimated useful lives of the its caverns to 40 years from 30 years.

MHP reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $6.3 million for the first quarter, compared with $6 million last year. Capital expenditures for the first quarter were $0.5 million, compared with $1.4 million in 1999.

NiSource, through MHP and other subsidiaries, is developing a system of natural gas market centers with salt cavern storage facilities that include Moss Bluff, Egan, the Tioga facility in Pennsylvania and two other market hubs now that are in various stages of development in Mississippi and the Midwest.

See EnergyUSA's website at www.energyusa.com, or visit NiSource's website at www.nisource.com.

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