FERC on Monday issued certificates for Columbia Gas Transmission Corp.’s Eastern Market Expansion, which is intended to expand storage capacity by 5.66 Bcf and provide up to 94 MMcf/d of storage deliverability and associated firm pipeline capacity to serve gas distributors in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Columbia, a unit of NiSource Inc., filed its application for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May (see Daily GPI, May 4, 2007). Columbia had held an open season for the expansion in August 2005 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 4, 2005). The company said it has signed precedent agreements for storage and transportation service under Rate Schedules FSS and SST for the full capacity of the Eastern Market Expansion with four customers for a primary term of 15 years. One customer is paying a discounted rate while the other three agreed to pay negotiated rates.

The project received environmental clearance in October (see Daily GPI, Oct. 3, 2007).

The expansion facilities include 15.26 miles of 26-inch and 36-inch diameter pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia and 12,280 hp of additional compression at three existing facilities, as well as upgrade of yard facilities, various delivery points and appurtenances. Columbia also plans to expand its existing Crawford storage field in Fairfield and Hocking counties, OH, and the existing Coco A and C storage fields in Kanawha County, WV, by drilling nine new wells, reconditioning 14 existing wells and constructing or replacing 13 well lines [CP07-367-000, CP07-367-001].

In addition to the compressor station work, Columbia received permission to accelerate replacement and reliability work in conjunction with the expansion project as the work can be done for about $8.76 million less than if it were done as previously scheduled. The reliability work involves replacing 22,460 hp of compression at existing facilities and auxiliary equipment at the Lanham, Lost River and Seneca compressor stations.

Columbia estimates the total cost for construction of the expansion facilities to be nearly $147.5 million.

The pipeline and storage operator was also granted permission to restate the certificated volume of base gas contained in the Coco A storage field from 22,805 MMcf to 16,545 MMcf and the overall certificated capacity from 44,500 MMcf to 36,240 MMcf [CP08-19-000]. The Commission agreed that the change is needed to correct an accounting error that resulted from a lack of direct measurement at the Coco A field during the 1950s and early 1960s. The Commission allowed Columbia to reflect the rate impact of the change at Coco A in its next Section 4 rate case. “Columbia explains that the base gas adjustment of $7.5 million is less than one-half of one percent of the rate base associated with Columbia’s currently approved recourse rates of $1.604 billion,” the Commission said.

Columbia Gas Transmission has a total of 586 Bcf of gas storage capacity; working capacity is 246 Bcf.

The Commission also granted Columbia’s request to abandon certain well lines and compressor station structures and equipment [CP07-367-000].

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