FERC on Wednesday approved Equitrans LP’s request to begin the pre-filing process for a proposed greenfield pipeline that would transport Appalachian natural gas production in eastern Kentucky to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets.

The so-called Big Sandy Pipeline project would provide a needed outlet for the gas production of affiliate Equitrans Supply and independent producers in four counties — Floyd, Johnson, Carter and Lawrence — in eastern Kentucky. Equitrans Supply is the largest gas supplier in the Appalachian basin, with reserves of more than 2 Tcf. The 60-mile pipeline would deliver 70 MMcf/d into the system of Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Carter County for transport to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets.

The projected $80 million pipeline project is targeted for in-service in the summer or fall of 2007, according to a spokesman for Pittsburgh, PA-based Equitrans LP, an indirect subsidiary of Equitrans Resources. Equitrans plans to file an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “fairly soon,” he said.

“Your letter describes Equitrans’ need to commence construction of its Big Sandy Pipeline project in September 2006. We believe that it is possible to coordinate with the other agencies, complete the environmental review process, and present our recommendations to the Commission in that time frame,” said J. Mark Robinson, director of FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, in a letter to Equitrans [PF06-12].

FERC’s ability to meet this schedule will depend on Equitrans’ commitment to resolve issues that are identified in the pre-filing process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), he said. The NEPA review allows project sponsors to work out environmental concerns associated with their project prior to filing an application, which helps to speed the approval process at FERC.

Equitrans is a regional natural gas transmission operator in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and owns storage and gathering assets.

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