Northern Natural Gas Co. Tuesday won access to more than 9,000 acres and several oil/gas wells in south-central Kansas so that it might move forward with a plan to stop gas migration from its Cunningham Storage Field.
The company was granted a preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Monti Belot that prohibits owners of natural gas wells on the properties from using those wells to tap gas resources in other formations. Northern Natural has a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-approved plan to use these wells to stop the gas migration from its storage facility. However, it has yet to put that plan into motion (see Daily GPI, March 18, 2011).
The Cunningham Storage Field can store up to 62 Bcf. Northern Natural uses the field to serve a market area that includes parts of Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
“…[T]his project [to stop the gas migration], which has yet to begin, will suffer even more delay without a preliminary injunction and Northern may be unable to reestablish stability of the Cunningham Storage Field,” wrote Belot. “Northern is already unable to come anywhere close to meeting FERC’s time line for installation of a water injection program, and the viability of the storage field will be threatened. Unlike the cases relied upon defendants [well owners], there is a real threat of irreparable harm present that renders inadequate the ordinary legal remedy of allowing the condemnor to gain possession only after just compensation is fully determined and paid.”
Northern Natural had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wichita, KS, to take 9,117.53 acres (see Daily GPI, July 26, 2010). The property-taking, Northern argued, was in the public interest and necessary to contain gas migrating from the storage field.
Belot ordered Northern Natural to post bond of $7.84 million and deposit with the court another $2.67 million from which the property owners may draw until final compensation for the property taking is determined.
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