Operators Seek Extension to Complete Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline

(Reuters) — The joint venture building the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia asked federal regulators for four more years until October 2026 to complete the long-delayed project.

Mountain Valley — the only big gas pipe under construction in Appalachia — is one of several U.S. pipeline projects delayed by regulatory and legal fights with environmental and local groups that found problems with federal permits issued during President Donald Trump's administration. 

Specifically, Mountain Valley asked the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday for the extension due to ongoing litigation and court remand proceedings related to several permits and authorizations.

In May, Equitrans Midstream Corp., the lead partner building the project, said it expected the pipe to enter service in the second half of 2023 at a cost of around $6.6 billion. 

Officials at Equitrans were not immediately available for comment.

When Mountain Valley construction started in February 2018, Equitrans estimated the 303-mile (488-km), 2-billion-cubic-feet-per-day (Bcf/d) project would cost about $3.5 billion and enter service by late 2018. 

Earlier this year, Equitrans said total work on the pipeline was "nearly 94% complete." 

Last week, analysts at ClearView Partners said they expect federal agencies to finish their reviews by the end of 2022 with construction completion in early 2023.

Several federal agencies need to reissue permits, including FERC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Biological Opinion), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (Right-of-Way across Jefferson National Forest).

Many of those permits were vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit - some more than once.

Equitrans has a 47.8% ownership interest in Mountain Valley and will operate the pipeline.

Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy Inc., Consolidated Edison Inc., AltaGas Ltd. and RGC Resources.

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