The owners of the Double E natural gas pipeline have asked federal regulators for permission to begin construction on the 135-mile Permian Basin conduit.

In a Monday filing, Double E Pipeline LLC asked FERC to approve the start of construction by Friday. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized the pipeline in October.

Project backer Summit Midstream Partners LP sanctioned Double E in June 2019, with an eye on moving 1.35 Bcf/d from the Permian’s Delaware sub-basin to the Waha hub in West Texas and beyond.

The midstreamer moved forward with the project after securing “sufficient” binding commitments for long-term, firm transportation service. Summit Permian Transmission LLC held an open season for Double E in 2018 to test support for service to various receipt points in New Mexico’s Eddy and Lea counties and the West Texas counties of Loving, Ward, Reeves and Pecos. From Waha, the system plans to connect with “multiple current and planned takeaway pipelines” to demand centers south, according to Summit.

It also secured a joint venture (JV) agreement with ExxonMobil, an anchor shipper on the project with a 30% stake in the project. ExxonMobil’s XTO Energy Inc. and Summit teamed up in 2017 to develop and operate an associated gas gathering and processing system to serve Permian operators in New Mexico.

Double E would be among a handful of other pipeline projects aimed at transporting supply out of the once-constrained Permian. 

Kinder Morgan Inc. brought the Gulf Coast Express pipeline into service in September 2019 and the Permian Highway Pipeline online Jan. 1. The 2 Bcf/d Whistler project, backed by MPLX LP, WhiteWater Midstream and a JV between Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and West Texas Gas Inc., would be the third greenfield project out of the basin when it comes online in the summer.

Sanctioned under far different circumstances, Double E’s projected in-service late this year would coincide with an expected recovery amid Covid-19. The virus upended the energy industry as it slashed demand, and the return to business as usual is not expected to be as quick as the plunge. Two vaccines are available in the United States, but less than five million people have been administered doses to date, far below the 20 million expected by the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, once a heavily constrained market, the Permian now has spare capacity, and Double E’s in-service would add to the competition among pipelines vying for molecules.