FERC last Thursday approved plans by Equitrans LP to expand its natural gas pipeline system in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Pittsburgh-based company's Sunrise Project is estimated to cost $272 million, and when completed will supply the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states with up to 313,560 Dth/d of Marcellus Shale gas.

"It absolutely is welcome news by us," Karla Olsen, spokeswoman for EQT Corp., Equitrans' parent company, told NGI's Shale Daily on Monday. "This is something we have worked on for a while. With the production of natural gas increasing there is a need for new and expanded pipeline. This is one of the projects that will help us transport that gas from place to place."

The project consists of building about 41.5 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline in Wetzel County, WV, and Greene County, PA, coupled with another 2.7 miles of 16-inch diameter pipeline in Wetzel County. Both segments would have a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 1,200 psig.

Also in Greene County, Equitrans would also build about 0.21 miles of 20-inch diameter pipeline with a 720 psig MAOP; replace approximately 2.6 miles of an inactive 16-inch diameter pipeline with a 20-inch diameter pipeline at 655 psig MAOP; requalify about 4.8 miles of an existing 20-inch diameter pipeline at 655 psig MAOP; and construct a new compressor station in Jefferson Township with a capacity of 14,205 hp.

The Sunrise Project also calls for five new interconnections, three with Equitrans' existing mainline system and one each with pipelines operated by Texas Eastern Transmission LP and Dominion Transmission Inc.

FERC and Olsen said Equitrans already had signed commitments for 199,410 Dth/d, about 64% of the project's total capacity. In October 2010 the company told NGI's Shale Daily that it had two anchor tenants for the project (see Shale Daily, Oct. 5, 2010). The agency issued a favorable environmental assessment of the project in May (see Shale Daily, May 12).

Olsen said construction would begin in either August or September, with the project expected to go online by May 2012.