Pipeline projects in the planning stages by Equitrans L.P. and Dominion Transmission Inc. would carry as much as 1.4 Bcf/d of Marcellus Shale and other Appalachian production out of northern West Virginia to major connections in southwestern Pennsylvania by late 2012.

One small phase of the overall scheme, a pipeline uprate project by Equitrans, has already started deliveries. On Oct. 1 Equitrans started providing 100 MMcf/d of new capacity, adding compression along existing lines from two legs originating in Taylor and Wetzel counties, WV, and feeding into its main lines going into southwestern Pennsylvania,

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-based Equitrans is continuing to sign on interested parties for an even larger expansion from the same West Virginia area to major interstates across the border in Pennsylvania.

In a presentation to a producers meeting recently, Andy Murphy, vice president of commercial rates, said there is still "a small window" open to sign on for the next step. Its Sunrise Expansion project will add 800 MMcf/d of capacity going north from West Virginia. The Sunrise Expansion will deliver to a new connection with Texas Eastern Transmission and Dominion Transmission, and to Columbia Gas near the Equitrans header at Pratt in Greene County, PA.

The project currently has two anchor tenants, and "we are finalizing engineering and design," Murphy said. It will include 115 miles of pipeline and two new compressor stations and is targeted to be in service by July 2012. The line will direct gas to new markets as well as existing market points, "which we continue to try to develop to replace coal with natural gas," Murphy said.

While Equitrans is signing on third-party producers, some of the gas will be production from the exploration and production division of parent EQT Corp.

EQT's capital expenditures budget for well development this year is more than $900 million. In the Appalachian Basin the company drilled 702 wells in 2009, of which approximately 60% were horizontal wells in low-pressure shales and tight sands, while the rest consisted of coalbed methane and Marcellus Shale. Almost all were successful.

Just last week EQT announced initial production (IP) of 22 MMcfe/d over 30 days in a Greene County well completed in late July, which had a total lateral length of 9,000 feet, with 8,411 feet of stimulated pay, and was completed with a 28-stage fracture. Another Marcellus well in Armstrong County had a 24-hour IP of 15 MMcfe from 4,060 feet of stimulated pay (see Daily GPI, Sept. 30).

Meanwhile, producers looking for transportation out of West Virginia will have another option. Dominion Transmission is well along on plans for its 110-mile Appalachian Gateway project, designed to carry nearly 500 MMcf/d of firm transportation, also from northern West Virginia, to a connection at Oakford in southwestern Pennsylvania.

From there Dominion's Marcellus Northeast project will boost compression on its current line from Oakford to deliver 200 MMcf/d of the gas to the Leidy Hub. Dominion is targeting both of these projects, along with a West Virginia gathering enhancement, for service in the fall of 2012.