Despite shorthanded FERC, EQT expects Mountain Valley Pipeline environmental decision this summer

Dive Brief:

  • EQT Midstream Partners indicated that its Mountain Valley Pipeline project continues to move ahead, and the company anticipates receiving a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in June from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 
  • The proposed gas pipeline system would run 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, accessing Marcellus and Utica shale production.
  • EQT gave the pipeline update as part of its first quarter earnings announcement. The company posted net income of $143 million and operating income of $145.1 million, about 6% higher than last year. 

Dive Insight:

EQT said an updated schedule from federal regulators shows a FEIS could be issued June 23, which would keep the project on schedule. The joint venture proposing Mountain Valley has already secured a total of 2 billion cubic feet per day of firm capacity commitments at 20-year terms, and continues to target a late 2018 in-service date.

Midstream Partners will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest, along with NextEra US Gas Assets, Con Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream, and RGC Midstream. 

Additionally, EQT said the initial phase of the gas header pipeline for Range Resources was placed into service in late 2016, providing 75 MMc/d of firm capacity, which will increase to 600 MMcf/d upon completion of the project. The project is backed by a ten-year firm capacity reservation commitment, and is expected to be complete in the second quarter of ths year.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is expected to provide up to two million dekatherms per day of firm transmission capacity to markets in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions of the United States. The line will also extend the Equitrans transmission system in Wetzel County, W.Va., to Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Zone 5 compressor station in Pittsylvania County, Va.

However, a final decision on a certificate would require a vote by FERC commissioners, and the five-seat commission is currently short-handed. Commissioner Colette Honorable announced last week that she will step down when her term expires in June, possibly leaving only one member, Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur.

FERC will need at least three members to approve project certificates, but so far, President Trump has not nominated candidates to the fill vacant seats.

Another study released in September 2016 from the Southern Environmental Law Center said the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, alongside the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, is unnecessary since "natural gas supply capacity exceeds peak demand." 

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