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Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co (Transco), a unit of North American energy firm Williams Companies Inc. (WMB - Analyst Report), has started an open season for its natural gas storage capacity at Covington County, Mississippi-based Eminence Field. The open season starts from Oct 8, 2013 through Nov 6, 2013.

The facility of the Field will be able to accumulate roughly 689 dekatherms (Dth) of natural gas and is expected to have a withdrawal and injection capacity up to 82 Dth and 7 Dth of gas per day, respectively. Williams believes the storage service to start by Mar 15, 2014.    

Transco owns 16,500 kilometer pipeline system which transports natural gas from the Gulf Coast, Appalachia-based supply regions to the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets. The pipeline has a transportation capacity of roughly 9.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.  

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams is a premier energy infrastructure provider in North America. The company’s core operations include finding, producing, gathering, processing and transportation of natural gas. Boasting a widespread pipeline system, Williams is one of the largest domestic transporters of natural gas by volume.

Williams’ midstream assets, which are less sensitive to commodity prices, help the company to maintain a steady stream of revenue and cash flow even amid low natural gas prices.

However, we remain cautious over Williams’ high debt levels, which leave it vulnerable to an extended drop in commodity prices. As of Jun 30, 2013, Williams had long-term debt of more than $10.3 billion, representing a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 70.2%.

Williams currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it is expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Meanwhile, one can look at better performing energy firms like Dril-Quip Inc. (DRQ - Analyst Report), Stone Energy Corp. (SGY - Analyst Report) and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN - Analyst Report) that offer value. All the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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