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Plains' La. gas storage expansion gets 3 more years for construction

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Plains' La. gas storage expansion gets 3 more years for construction

FERC gave an extension to Pine Prairie Energy Center LLC to complete its natural gas storage expansion project after delays connected to an effort to comply with new Louisiana rules on underground salt caverns.

Richard Foley, branch chief of the FERC Division of Pipeline Certificates, told Pine Prairie it could have three more years, until May 2020, to complete construction of storage facilities and make them available for service. Foley granted the extension in a March 28 letter to Pine Prairie senior attorney Eileen Kisluk. Pine Prairie is a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline LP's PAA Natural Gas Storage LP.

FERC approved the phase 3 expansion project at the Pine Prairie facility in May 2011. As approved, the project would provide an estimated incremental storage capacity of about 32 Bcf, boosting total storage at the facility from 48 Bcf to 80 Bcf. The order allowed the company to increase working gas capacity in four of its five gas storage caverns and develop two more storage caverns. The order required the caverns to be in service within three years. In April 2014, FERC granted the company a three-year extension to put them in service.

Similar to the April 2014 request, Pine Prairie told FERC that it has not been able to complete the facilities by May 2017 due to "circumstances beyond its control," according to Foley's letter. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources published new rules for underground salt caverns storing hydrocarbons in 2014 and amended the rules in 2016. Pine Prairie has been working with the agency to update its application and is waiting for approval to begin the sixth and seventh caverns. In the meantime, Pine Prairie told FERC, it has worked on the expansion of the existing caverns and construction of compressor equipment. (FERC docket CP11-1)

In April 2016, Cheniere Energy Partners LP's Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC signed a 10-year firm storage service agreement with Pine Prairie to manage load swings at the Sabine Pass LNG export terminal.