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FERC approves two new NE natgas line projects

16 Oct 2017, 5.04 pm GMT

FERC approves two new NE natgas line projects

Houston, 16 October (Argus) — Federal regulators have approved two large, greenfield natural gas pipeline projects in the US northeast amid the end of a months-long delay in project approvals.

The decision signals a shift in increasing crucial takeaway capacity in the prolific Appalachian shale region.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) began approving projects again in August after six months of relative inactivity as a result of losing its quorum status. The regulatory body had approved mostly smaller pipeline projects since regaining a quorum, but late last week it approved a combined addition of 3.4 Bcf/d (96mn m³/d) of capacity in the northeast.

The projects FERC approved on 13 October include EQT Midstream Partners' 1.9 Bcf/d Mountain Valley pipeline, which would ship gas produced in Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Transcontinental Gas pipeline's compressor station 165 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The project involves building a 304-mile (488km) greenfield pipeline and three new compressor stations in West Virginia as well as new interconnects, meter stations and regulating stations. EQT expects to begin service on the pipeline in the fourth quarter of 2018.

FERC also approved Dominion Transmission's 1.4mn cf/d Atlantic Coast pipeline, which would involve 604 miles of new pipeline and related facilities extending from Harrison County, West Virginia, to eastern portions of Virginia and North Carolina. Dominion expects the project to come on line in the second half of 2019.

Pipeline construction in the US northeast has been beset with regulatory delays at both the federal and state level. States have increasingly denied critical environmental permits to projects over the past year, resulted in a FERC approval not necessarily being a guarantee that the project can move forward.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied a water certificate to the 628mn cf/d Constitution Pipeline in 2016 and to National Fuel Gas' 500mn cf/d Northern Access project earlier this year. Also this year, the state of New Jersey denied a wetlands crossing permit to the 1 Bcf/d PennEast pipeline.

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