Citing the above-normal natural gas inventory levels this year, Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. is seeking authorization to increase on a temporary basis the maximum volume of gas in storage in 11 of its storage fields above the amount currently certificated by FERC.

Columbia is proposing to store up to an additional 6.5 Bcf of natural gas in 11 storage fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia for a period that would run until April 2007. The selected fields have a total storage capacity of nearly 202 Bcf, so the 6.5 Bcf would represent a modest hike of 3% overall, according to the NiSource-owned pipeline.

Columbia engineers said the 11 storage fields are expected to reach their certificated volume level prior to reaching their maximum operating pressure limits, indicating an ability to inject and hold additional gas until the field reaches maximum operating pressure, the pipeline told FERC.

The proposed increase in maximum storage volume “is one time in nature given expectations for more typical winter withdrawals and summer injections in the 2006-2007 season,” it said. It asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on its request by no later than Aug. 31 so it can accommodate additional injections for the upcoming winter heating season.

“Although the total volume injected is expected to be greater as a result of the requested authorization, Columbia cannot offer additional firm service since the volumes remaining to inject are only projections and the design daily deliverability from these fields will not increase. However, Columbia will be able to better optimize its storage operations with this flexibility, and also will be able to offer a greater level of interruptible services as a result,” the pipeline said.

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