FERC Friday issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) of Pine Prairie Energy Center LLC’s proposal to double the working gas capacity of its storage project near the Henry Hub in Louisiana to 48 Bcf.

Based on the EA analysis and proposed mitigation measures, “approval of this proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said of the proposed storage expansion [CP04-379].

Pine Prairie proposes to develop two additional caverns, each with capacity of 12.8 Bcf, bringing the total number of its caverns to five, and to increase the working capacity of two of the three previously FERC-authorized caverns to 10 Bcf from 8 Bcf, yielding aggregate working capacity of 48 Bcf among the five caverns, according to the company (see Daily GPI, Feb. 17). It also plans to install one additional raw water withdrawal well and an additional saltwater disposal well; a 5.3-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline loop and six incremental compression units totaling 34,800 hp [CP04-379].

Pine Prairie, which is owned by Houston-based PAA/Vulcan Gas Storage LLC, has asked the Commission to approve the project on or before Aug. 1. The expanded storage facility, located in Evangeline Parish, LA, is targeted for service in early 2011, the company said.

PAA/Vulcan Gas Storage is a partnership of Plains All American Pipeline LP and Vulcan Capital. When the proposed expansion is complete, the storage facility would have a withdrawal and delivery capability of up to 3.2 Bcf/d and receiving and injection capability of up to 2.4 Bcf/d.

Of three Pine Prairie storage caverns approved by FERC in November 2004, Pine Prairie reports that it placed in service Cavern No. 1 (5 Bcf) in October 2008 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 19, 2004). Cavern No. 2 (8 Bcf) went into service on April 1, while Cavern No. 3 is expected to go into operation in the second quarter of 2010. Its dual 24-inch diameter header system with direct interconnects with eight pipelines was placed in service in November 2007, according to the company.

The storage facility has planned tie-ins with ANR Pipeline, Texas Gas Transmission, Florida Gas Transmission, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Texas Eastern Transmission, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and Columbia Gulf Transmission.

Pine Prairie is being developed to be the largest salt cavern natural gas storage facility in North America, the company said.

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