U.S. Approves Part of TransCanada WB XPress for Service

(Reuters) - U.S. federal energy regulators on Wednesday approved a request by TransCanada Corp's Columbia Gas Transmission unit to put the eastern facilities of its $900 million WB XPress natural gas pipeline into service in West Virginia and Virginia.

WB XPress is one of several pipelines designed to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada.

The 1.3-Bcf/d WB XPress project was designed to increase gas capacity in Virginia and West Virginia. The project includes construction of 2.9 miles of new pipeline, two compressor stations and replacement of 26 miles of existing pipeline.

New pipelines built to remove gas from the Marcellus and Utica basins have enabled shale drillers to boost output in the Appalachia region to a forecast record high of around 30.4 Bcf/d in December from 26.9 Bcf/d during the same month a year earlier.

That represents about 37 percent of the nation's total dry gas output of 83.2 Bcf/d expected on average in 2018. A decade ago, the Appalachia region produced just 1.6 Bcf/d, or 3% of the country's total production in 2008.

Separately, TransCanada has said it plans to complete its $3 billion Mountaineer and $600 million Gulf XPress projects by the end of the year.

Mountaineer is designed to increase gas capacity in West Virginia by 2 Bcf/d.

Gulf XPress is designed to move 0.88 Bcf/d of gas from Appalachia to the U.S. South.

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