PennEast to End Development of Pennsylvania-New Jersey Natural Gas Pipeline

(Reuters) — PennEast Pipeline said on Monday it would stop developing a proposed pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, the latest in a series of natural gas lines to run aground due to legal and regulatory challenges.

The project was one of several proposed in recent years to draw natu

ral gas from the fast-growing Appalachian region, only to run into local or environmental opposition to more fossil-fuel infrastructure. Gas prices have surged worldwide due to rising demand and lack of supply.

In the United States, there is plenty of product available for heating and power generation. But with the cancellation of PennEast, the industry is becoming more concerned that the vast growth in Appalachia's production will become trapped.

Much of the growth in U.S. gas production over the past decade that turned the United States from a gas importer into one of the world's biggest exporters of the fuel has come from the Appalachian region.

PennEast was cancelled, the company said, because it had not yet received all of its required permits. The project was one of the last major ones in the works set to pull gas from the Marcellus/Utica formation in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the biggest gas shale basin in the United States.

"The PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the project no longer is supported," PennEast said in an email, noting it "has ceased all further development of the project."

U.S. natural gas prices are at a seven-year high, boosted by overseas demand for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Global gas prices are at a record due to low storage levels in Europe and insatiable demand in Asia.

Other East Coast gas pipes held up by regulators and legal battles include Williams Cos Inc.'s Northeast Supply Enhancement from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York, and Dominion Energy Inc's Atlantic Coast from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina. The latter was cancelled in 2020.

PennEast decided to stop development even though the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled in its favor in a lawsuit allowing the line to seize state-owned or controlled land in New Jersey.

As recently as August, PennEast said it still hoped to finish the first phase of the $1.2 billion pipe in Pennsylvania in 2022. However, the company still lacks certain permits, including a water quality certification in New Jersey.

The 120-mile (193 kilometer) pipe was designed to deliver 1.1 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Marcellus shale to customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. One billion cubic feet is enough gas for about five million U.S. homes for a day.

PennEast had initially hoped to complete the project in 2019.

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