A partnership created by billionaire investor Paul Allen's Vulcan Capital and Plains All American Pipeline agreed to buy a natural-gas storage...

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A partnership created by billionaire investor Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and Plains All American Pipeline agreed to buy a natural-gas storage business from Sempra Energy for about $250 million to capitalize on an expected increase in U.S. imports of the fuel.

Allen, the 52-year-old co-founder of Microsoft, is investing in gas storage amid expectations for increased demand for the services from new import terminals for liquefied natural gas under construction in the U.S.

Allen’s Vulcan owns 54 percent of the general partner that controls Houston-based Plains, which operates 14,000 miles of oil pipelines, according to public filings.

“We believe we will produce a leader in the natural-gas storage sector,” David Capobianco, Vulcan’s managing director and a director of Plains, said in a statement yesterday. “Given the increasing volatility in the timing of gas supply and the seasonal nature of demand, storage will be critical to maintain market equilibrium.”

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Assets of the Sempra business, Energy Center Investments, include 20 billion cubic feet of underground storage in Michigan and a planned complex in Louisiana with capacity of 24 billion cubic feet, Plains said.

The partnership, PAA/Vulcan Gas Storage, plans to spend $260 million to develop the Louisiana site.

Growing U.S. demand for gas and a dwindling domestic supply of the fuel has prompted plans for construction of more than 50 terminals to import liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

Five such terminals currently are operating in North America, and construction is under way on two more in the U.S. and one in Mexico.

Supply concerns have contributed to an almost doubling of natural-gas futures traded in New York in the past two years.