Market Hub Partners L.P., a division of Duke Energy GasTransmission, yesterday asked FERC for the go-ahead toincrementally expand its natural gas storage facility in Egan, LA,by 4 Bcf.

The company cited the return to normal weather patterns thiswinter, increased commodity volatility and the greater gas demandsof power generators in justifying in its FERC application the needfor the project, which would boost the capacity of the Eganfacility to 16 Bcf from its current 12 Bcf. Market Hub pegged thecost of the proposed storage expansion at $9 million.

This would mark the third expansion of the Egan facility, whichhas been in commercial operation since September 1995. The firstphase included the actual excavation of the Egan site to make wayfor 6 Bcf of storage capacity, and the second phase doubled theworking capacity to 12 Bcf. Assuming it gets FERC approval, MarketHub said it expects to complete the third phase by 2005.

The company said it plans to use its SMUG (Solution Mining UnderGas) technology to carry out the phase three expansion, whichinvolves specially designed wellhead and leaching equipment thatcan flush out the salts while still permitting customers to use thecaverns without any service interruptions, a spokeswoman noted.

Market Hub currently has a combined storage capacity of 23 Bcfat Egan and its second storage facility in Moss Bluff, TX, makingit one of the largest owners of high-deliverability salt carvernstorage facilities in the nation. It also is developinghigh-deliverability salt cavern storage facilities in CopiahCounty, MS, and Tioga Country, PA. But Market Hub said it doesn’thave specific target dates for when these would be completed.

The Egan facilities interconnect with six pipelines, includingTrunkline Gas, Texas Gas Transmission, ANR Pipeline, Tennessee GasPipeline, Columbia Gas Transmission and Conoco, according to aspokeswoman.

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