CMS Energy Corp. said last week that its CMS Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Co. subsidiary has kicked off a month-long open season to determine interest in firm, high-deliverability natural gas storage service in the pipeline’s Midwest market area.

The company said it will accept non-binding expressions of interest from 8 a.m. CDT Sept. 18, until 5 p.m. CDT Oct. 18, for firm natural gas storage service up to 100 MMcf/d deliverability from potential new storage capacity of up to 6.75 Bcf. CMS Panhandle said it is seeking interest for 30-day, 50-day, 70-day and 90-day service under Rate Schedule FS. The level of firm storage service that may be made available is dependent on the combination of capacity and deliverability proposed in the expressions of interest.

“An open season is an effective mechanism to determine our customers’ long-term needs and how CMS Panhandle Eastern can best meet those needs as an open access provider of energy services,” said Christopher A. Helms, president of CMS Panhandle Cos. “The outcome of this open season will help the company plan for the future use and potential expansion of storage services.”

The company said it will evaluate interest to determine the greatest use of the deliverability and capacity available to the largest number of shippers, which would create the greatest economic value. CMS Panhandle said it is looking for interest from shippers for a minimum term of five years, with service beginning no earlier than the summer injection season of 2003. The company also added that it will evaluate all expressions of interest to determine the feasibility of expanding its current storage capacity, including requesting CMS Southwest Gas Storage Co. to file for an expansion of its storage facilities.

More information about the open season and a copy of the Firm Storage Open Season Bid Sheet are available online through CMS Energy’s website — Questions regarding the open season should be directed to Randy Parr, director, marketing at (713) 989-7623.

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