Equitrans Midstream Corp. has delayed the expected startup date for its 303-mile Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline (MVP) to first-quarter 2024 from end-2023. The company cited “certain unforeseen factors” in announcing both the slowed pace of construction and expected increased costs.
“The ramp up of MVP’s contractor workforce has been slower and more challenging than expected, due to multiple crews electing not to work on the project based on the history of court-related construction stops, and the inability to recruit crews with required and sufficient experience,” the company stated in a filing with the US Securities Exchange Commission. Equitrans also cited “challenging terrain and geology” in explaining the delay and costs increase.
Project costs have increased to $7.2 billion from $6.6 billion. Work began on the 2-bcfd pipeline in 2018 and is more than 94% complete, but the project has faced multiple legal delays related to its potential environmental impact since construction started.
The US Supreme Court earlier this year ordered that appellate court stays blocking work on the pipeline be vacated, following passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act which approved all needed permits (OGJ Online, Aug. 7, 2023). And earlier this month, Equitrans reached agreement with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration under which inline inspections and cathodic protection surveys would be accelerated (OGJ Online, Oct. 5, 2023).
Equitrans owns 47% of MVP in a joint venture with NextEra Capital Holdings Inc., Con Edison Transmission Inc., WGL Midstream MVP LLC, and RGC Midstream LLC. The pipeline will transport gas from West Virginia to Mid-Atlantic US markets.