ISH currently operates two natural gas storage caverns in the Jefferson Island salt dome approximately 4,000ft below the surface of Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. The existing caverns have operated safely since 1994.

Dana Grams, president of Pivotal Energy Development, a division of AGL Resources company, which owns and operates JISH, said: “We are confident that the environmental, safety and water-usage data that we have submitted with our permit application will demonstrate that Jefferson Island is among the most suitable sites for new storage caverns in the region.”

Pending state approval, the new caverns could enter commercial operation within five years, expanding the working gas capacity at JISH from approximately 8 billion cubic feet to approximately 20bcf.

The proposed expansion at JISH is expected to offer significant economic impact to Vermilion and Iberia Parishes, according to an independent study.

In November 2009, the Louisiana Mineral and Energy Board approved an operating agreement between JISH and the state that enabled the company to resume its efforts to gain the regulatory approvals needed to proceed with its planned expansion.

In May, the company drilled a test well that validated its assumptions that the non-potable water from the Lower Chicot aquifer can be used for the balance of water needed to carve out the caverns in the salt dome without adversely impacting the Upper Chicot, the area’s main water source for residential, commercial and agricultural uses.