Columbia Gas Transmission Corp., a subsidiary of NiSource Inc., has teamed with a subsidiary of Piedmont Natural Gas in announcing an agreement to jointly develop a major new market area underground natural gas storage facility in a depleted natural gas production field in Hardy and Hampshire Counties, WV.

The Hardy Storage Company LLC, would have the capacity to store approximately 12 Bcf of natural gas, and deliver up to 100,000 Dth/d by November 2007; 150,000 Dth/d by November 2008, and 176,000 Dth/d by November 2009. An open season for Hardy Storage conducted earlier this year resulted in full subscription of the project’s storage capacity under long-term firm contracts.

“This project is a natural extension of NiSource’s strength as one of the nation’s largest and most experienced underground storage operators,” said Gary L. Neale, CEO of NiSource. “Hardy Storage will represent an important new market-area option for meeting the needs of eastern natural gas markets, especially during the coldest days of winter.”

“The Hardy Storage project fits well with Piedmont’s gas supply strategies for meeting the needs of its growing Southeast markets,” said Thomas Skains, CEO of Piedmont Natural Gas. “This joint venture further demonstrates Piedmont’s disciplined approach to investments in complementary natural gas projects that serve our growing core utility customer base and leverage our core competencies.”

Columbia and Piedmont will each have a 50% equity interest in the $100 million project, and Columbia will serve as operator of the facilities. Columbia will also expand its natural gas transmission system to provide the capacity needed to deliver the Hardy storage gas to East Coast markets. Columbia Gas Transmission is one of the nation’s largest gas storage operators, with approximately 646 Bcf of capacity.

Hardy Storage Company anticipates filing an application for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2005, with plans to begin construction later that year. First storage injections by the project customers are planned for the spring of 2007.

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