FERC Wednesday partially approved Northern Natural Gas pipeline’s request to extend its storage field buffer zone in Kansas to prevent the further migration of gas away from its field.

Northern proposed that its 28,000-acre Cunningham field in Pratt and Kingman counties, be extended by 14,240 acres. The pipeline said third-party operators in the proposed 14,240-acre extension are producing Northern’s storage gas and the expansion of the buffer zone would allow it to protect the integrity of the Cunningham storage field.

“Northern has a responsibility to protect the natural gas that its customers have entrusted to Northern to store for them in the Cunningham field and, to that end, has a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the storage reservoir,” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order said [CP09-465].

“The Commission will authorize the expansion of the Cunningham field’s certificated boundary. The Commission finds, however, that the proposed extent of Northern’s protective boundary expansion is not reasonable…The Commission will authorize only 12,320 acres for expansion, rather than Northern’s proposed 14,240 acres,” it said.

And “the Commission will require Northern to design and implement a plan that will prevent the migration of storage gas beyond the newly authorized boundary and will require quarterly reporting on all actions taken, including an assessment of the results of Northern’s actions on halting the migration of storage gas,” the order noted.

Nash Oil & Gas sought to stay the request for an extension, arguing that many of the same issues were raised by Northern in court. “While the Nash Group may be correct that some of the same facts are involved in the court proceedings and here, the ultimate issues in the court proceedings — damages for conversion, unjust enrichment, nuisance, injunctive relief — are different from the issue before the Commission, i.e. whether expanding the protective boundary of the storage field is in the public convenience and necessity. Thus the Commission declines to hold these proceedings in abeyance,” the order said.

A request by the Haynesville Surface and Minerals Owners Association Inc., Sabco Oil and Gas Corp. and Pratt County to hold an evidentiary hearing or technical conference on the extent of the gas migration also was denied. “The Commission finds that the record, including the application, responses to data requests and other pleadings, contains sufficient information to make a reasoned decision on the merits in this proceeding. Thus no purpose would be served by convening a technical conference,” FERC said.

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