The same day it OK’d the startup of Atlantic Sunrise, FERC authorized service on another Appalachian takeaway expansion aimed at serving the East Coast, Columbia Gas Transmission LLC’s WB XPress Project.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff issued an order Thursday clearing Columbia to start up the 1.3 Bcf/d WB XPress Project’s Western Facilities, including its Line WB-5 Extension, Line WB-22, Line WB-22 Receiver Site, Panther Mountain Regulatory Station and Elk River Compressor Station in Kanawha County, WV, and the Dink Valve Site in Clay County, WV.

The project comprises roughly 3 miles of new pipeline and 26 miles of replacement pipeline across West Virginia and Virginia, along with two new compressor stations. Columbia parent TransCanada Corp. has said the project will “significantly improve the service and flexibility of natural gas delivery in Virginia and West Virginia.”

WB XPress is one of several Appalachian pipeline expansions to experience complications and delays resulting from heavy rainfall in the region in recent months. Columbia had filed an in-service request for the Western Facilities in early September but had to push back its timetable. In an Oct. 3 supplemental filing the operator noted a “substantial amount of rain resulting in a significant number of non-work days from saturated right-of-way and soil conditions, which has delayed construction and the implementation of restoration activities.”

FERC’s Rich McGuire, director of the Division of Gas-Environment & Engineering, said Thursday’s order was based on staff findings that “Columbia has adequately stabilized areas disturbed by construction and that restoration is proceeding satisfactorily.”

Like Atlantic Sunrise, the WB XPress project is poised to add flexibility for Appalachian producers attempting to get their gas to market during the upcoming heating season.

Natural gas futures trading Thursday suggested that FERC’s Atlantic Sunrise and WB XPress orders were helping to ease concerns over what figures to be a historically low storage deficit come November. The November New York Mercantile Exchange futures contract was down more than a nickel shortly before 2 p.m. ET Thursday, with the January contract down more than 7 cents on the day.