Equitrans Midstream Corp. has requested a 4-year extension from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to place its 303-mile Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline into service. Its current deadline is Oct. 13, 2022.
The project is 94% complete but has been delayed by multiple legal challenges and regulatory issues. Equitrans says it still plans to finish construction in second-half 2023. Mountain Valley would carry 2 bcfd of natural gas from production in northern West Virginia through Virginia to an interconnect near the North Carolina border.
Aboveground infrastructure has been completed and Mountain Valley says it has been actively addressing steps necessary to restore required permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. It plans to submit its species analysis to the Fish and Wildlife Service in early July 2022.
Earlier this year, FERC issued an order amending the project’s certificate to permit Mountain Valley to (OGJ Online, Apr. 11, 2022):
• Change the crossing for 183 waterbodies and wetlands at 120 locations from open-cut to trenchless.
• Slightly shift the permanent right-of-way at mileposts 0.70 and 230.8 to avoid one wetland and one waterbody, respectively.
• Conduct 24-hr construction activities at eight trenchless crossings.
FERC conditioned the amendment order on Mountain Valley completing construction by the Oct. 13, 2022. Ongoing litigation and remand proceedings related to several permits and authorizations, however, prompted Mountain Valley to request an extension to Oct. 13, 2026, to place the pipeline into service. The project remains fully subscribed under binding long-term agreements.
Initial plans called for Mountain Valley’s completion in fourth-quarter 2018 at a cost of $3.7 billion. Its estimated cost has since grown to $6.6 billion. Equitrans owns 48% of the project. Partners include NextEra Energy Inc., Consolidated Edison Inc., AltaGas Ltd., and RGC Resources Inc.