Equitrans LP has asked FERC for a four-month extension of the deadline to complete and place in service its proposed Big Sandy Pipeline. The project is intended to ease transportation constraints in eastern Kentucky that have caused producers to shut in natural gas production in recent years.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which approved the pipeline project in November 2006, directed Equitrans to have it in operation by Nov. 15 of this year (see NGI, Nov. 20, 2006). But Equitrans, citing a number of problems that it has faced along the way, asked FERC to give it until March 31, 2008 to have the facilities operable [CP06-275].

Equitrans, a subsidiary of Equitable Resources in Pittsburgh, said it has been hampered by initial delays in securing pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) for the project; a delay in clearing the ROW because it had to conduct a study plan on the impact to summer roosting of Indian bats; and insufficient labor to meet the projected completion schedule.

The company is building a 70-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline and associated facilities that would extend from Equitable Resources' Kentucky Hydrocarbon plant in Langley in eastern Kentucky to Tennessee Gas Pipeline's Broad Run Lateral in Carter County. The Big Sandy Pipeline project, when completed, would provide 130,000 MMBtu/d of takeaway capacity for Kentucky producers to transport Appalachian gas to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

Equitrans has been in a race with Atmos Energy to build a pipeline to relieve the constraints in the eastern Kentucky market (see NGI, Sept. 11, 2006). The Atmos Energy project, originally called Straight Creek Gathering, has since been renamed the Phoenix Gas Gathering project and is being redesigned, according to a company spokesman. The company would not say how it's being redesigned or when it is targeted for completion.

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