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FERC Delays Release of Mountain Valley Pipeline EIS

FERC said in a notice late last week that it is pushing back its environmental review schedule for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and related Equitrans Expansion Project (EEP) by a little over three months.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the projects [CP16-10, CP16-13] last September and had originally planned to release the final EIS on March 10. But Commission staff said Friday that the final EIS will now be released June 23, putting the 90-day federal authorization deadline at September 21.

FERC said it issued several information requests to the developers based on comments provided on the draft EIS "and only recently received information necessary for us to complete our environmental review." Late last year, a number of participating federal agencies commented that the draft EIS for MVP was incomplete or insufficient.

MVP spokeswoman Natalie Cox said FERC’s revised schedule will not push back the project’s target in-service date of 4Q2018.

“As initially designed, MVP’s overall project schedule accounted for flexibility in the construction start date(s) and allowed for receipt of MVP’s notice to proceed as late as November 2017; therefore, the delayed issuance of the FEIS has not impacted the in-service schedule,” Cox said.

The fully-subscribed MVP project proposes constructing a 301-mile, 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline capable of transporting 2 million Dth/d, as well as three new compressor stations. The pipeline would travel from Wetzel County, WV, to an interconnect with the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line in Pittsylvania County, VA.

Meanwhile, EEP -- which would interconnect with MVP -- proposes adding 600,000 Dth/d of north-south capacity in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through approximately eight miles of various diameter pipelines in six segments across Greene, Allegheny and Washington counties, PA, and Wetzel County, WV.

In its current state, FERC is unable to grant  Natural Gas Act certificates for pipelines under its review due to lack of a quorum, so it’s possible MVP and EEP could have seen delays in a final order regardless of the prolonged environmental review.

FERC has had two sitting Commissioners since former Chairman Norman Bay left in early February. While various names for possible Trump administration appointees have been floated in various reports, the pipeline industry and other stakeholders have spent the last two months waiting for official word on any progress in bringing the Commission back up to full strength.

A producer-push Marcellus/Utica-to-Southeast takeaway project, MVP is a joint venture between EQT Midstream Partners LP, Nextera US Gas Assets LLC, Con Edison Transmission Inc., WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream LLC, with EQT planning to operate the pipeline. EEP is backed by EQT Midstream Partners subsidiary Equitrans LP.

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