Appalachian Midstream Partners (AMP) will use a $176 million equity commitment from Avista Capital Partners to develop and expand its Bear Print system to serve Marcellus Shale gas production in north central Pennsylvania, the Columbus, OH-based company said.

AMP recently signed a gathering agreement with Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC (PGE) as an anchor customer on the Bear Print system. Pipeline construction was completed last month, and AMP began providing transportation services for PGE earlier this month, AMP said.

Michael Calderone, CEO for AMP, told NGI's Shale Daily on Monday that the current Bear Print system is an 8-inch diameter pipeline.

"As production ramps up and as we see a little more drilling activity in that area, if the demand warrants, we're planning on paralleling that system with a larger-diameter pipeline," Calderone said.

AMP's gathering system, which consists of 56 miles of pipeline spanning Clinton, Cameron and McKean counties, provides access to Tennessee Gas Pipeline in northern Pennsylvania and has the ability to provide future access to Columbia Gas, Dominion, National Fuel and Transco at the Leidy Hub storage field.

"We believe the Marcellus Shale will continue to be an area of focus for exploration and production companies and this investment represents an attractive opportunity for us to meet the growing need for additional infrastructure in the region," said Steven Webster, co-managing partner at Avista.