Sempra Energy filed with FERC Friday to build its Pine Prairie Energy Center, a 24 Bcf capacity high-deliverability, salt dome storage facility near the Henry Hub on a expedited basis to serve “the widely fluctuating demands of new gas-fired electric generating facilities as well as the ‘lumpy’ pattern of gas deliveries from LNG receiving and gasification terminals.”

Pine Prairie Energy Center LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Sempra Energy Trading, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission its recently completed open season elicited interest over and above the 8 Bcf capacity to be developed in each of three storage caverns. The caverns are located in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana “within easy reach” of 10 major interstate and intrastate pipelines and close to sites of several proposed LNG receiving terminals or associated gas pipeline delivery points.

When all three caverns are completed Pine Prairie will have an injection capability of 1.2 Bcf/d and withdrawal capability of 2.4 Bcf/d. Sempra seeks a FERC certificate by Nov. 30 in order to begin construction before the end of the year and thus qualify for bonus first year depreciation on its federal tax bill which it says will save millions of dollars. Pine Prairie proposes to have the first cavern in service with 6 Bcf of capacity by Jan. 1, 2006.

Subsequently, its plans call for developing the second cavern to 6 Bcf capacity, then completing both caverns to total 8 Bcf capacity each. After that the third cavern would be developed. “Approval on or before Nov. 30, 2004 also will enable Pine Prairie to place its second storage cavern in service by the 2008 time frame in which several proposed LNG import terminals in the Gulf Coast region will enter commercial operation.”

Pine Prairie is close to completing negotiations for connections to six pipelines, the filing said. Deliveries would be made through five pipeline corridors. Using portions of the Louisiana Chalk Gathering System connections will be made with Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, Texas Gas Transmission, Texas Eastern Transmission, ANR Pipeline and Florida Gas Transmission.

Interested customers included marketers, end users and LNG terminal developers, the application said. It seeks market-based rates for its open access firm and interruptible storage, park and loan, balancing, imbalance trading and wheeling services.

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