NiSource and Piedmont Natural Gas have teamed up to develop a new 12 Bcf natural gas storage field in Hardy and Hampshire counties, WV. The Hardy Storage Company LLC filed a formal project application this week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The depleted field reservoir will have the capability of delivering up to 176,000 Dth/d when fully operational. The companies expect to begin construction on the field later this year and have first storage injections in the spring of 2007. An open season last year resulted in full subscription of the project’s storage capacity under long-term firm contracts.

“Hardy Storage represents an important new market-area option for meeting the needs of eastern natural gas markets,” said Chris Helms, president of NiSource’s pipeline group, which includes Columbia Gas Transmission.

Piedmont CEO Thomas Skains said the project will complement the company’s “growing core utility customer base and leverage our core competencies.” Columbia and Piedmont each have a 50% equity interest in the project, and Columbia will serve as operator of the facilities.

Columbia also filed an application with the FERC to 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 646 Bcf of capacity.

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