After months of planning and market tests for a proposed expansion of its gas storage facility in Butte County, CA, Wild Goose Storage Inc., a subsidiary of Alberta Energy Co. Ltd., filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission last week to double the field’s size and triple the withdrawal capacity.

After a successful open season, which closed on May 22, Wild Goose determined there was a need to increase its working gas capacity from 14 Bcf to 29 Bcf. Withdrawal capacity is expected to more than triple from 200 MMcf/d to 700 MMcf/d, while injection capacity would increase more than fourfold from 80 MMcf/d to 450 MMcf/d. The proposed expansion and open season were first announced in April (see NGI, April 16).

“The dramatic natural gas price volatility that has recently occurred in California is a clear indication of the need for additional natural gas infrastructure in the state. Construction of new gas-fired electrical generation in and around California over the next few years is anticipated to increase the need for gas storage capacity,” said Rick Daniel, president of Wild Goose. “The positive results from our open season indicate that our customers want more storage capacity in Northern California and the current Wild Goose capacity is fully subscribed.”

Construction of the expansion includes an estimated 25 miles of transmission pipeline to connect the Wild Goose facility with Pacific Gas & Electric’s backbone gas transmission system. To enlarge the facility’s capacity, Wild Goose said compression would be increased and new wells would be drilled in the storage reservoir.

The open season received a strong response with numerous requests for additional storage capacity from a diverse group of customers, Wild Goose said. Interested participants requested terms ranging from two to 30 years, with 11.5 years as an average request. The company said it expects to execute binding precedent agreements with customers who have filed “qualified” requests for additional space.

According to Wild Goose, the expansion project is still on course to be operational by April 1, 2004, assuming normal regulatory process time. If the regulatory processes were expedited, the new facilities could come online sometime in 2003.

Interested customers can contact Ben Ledene in Calgary at (403) 266-8192, or Chris Price and Mark Baldwin with Interstate Gas Services in Livermore, CA, at (925) 243-0350.

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