FERC said it will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) and seek public comments for the Gulf Markets Expansion Project, a bi-directional expansion by Spectra Energy Partners LP’s Texas Eastern Transmission LP to move 650,000 Dth/d from Appalachia and South Texas to the Gulf Coast.

In a statement Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it will use the EA “in its decision-making process to determine whether the project is in the public convenience and necessity.” The agency said the public comment period for the project [CP15-90] would end on May 4.

According to Texas Eastern’s initial filing with FERC in February (see Daily GPI, March 5), the project will add receipt point capacity of 350,000 Dth/d in Market Zone 2, enhancing access to supplies from the Marcellus and Utica production areas; 150,000 Dth/d in Market Zone 1; and 150,000 Dth/d in Zone STX, providing additional capacity for growing gas supplies from production areas in Texas. It would also include additional delivery point capacity of: 150,000 Dth/d in Zone M1; and 500,000 Dth/d in Zone WLA, including capacity at Texas Eastern’s interconnection with Golden Triangle Storage and the Cameron Interstate Pipeline.

FERC said the EA will focus on geology and soils; land use; water bodies, fisheries, and wetlands; cultural resources; vegetation and wildlife; air quality and noise; endangered and threatened species; and public safety.

A summary of the project that accompanied FERC’s announcement shows Texas Eastern plans to allow for bi-directional compression at stations in Scioto County, OH; Bath County, KY; Giles County, TN; Monroe County, MS; Beauregard Parish, LA; and Saint Landry Parish, LA. At existing launchers and receivers in Franklin County, MS, bi-directional in-line inspection would be added, while additional compressor units would be added in Lavaca County, TX, and Saint Landry Parish, and gas chromatographs would be added in Pointe Coupee Parish, LA.

FERC said the total land requirement for construction and operation of the project is about 50 acres, of which 21 acres would be permanently affected by the facilities operation.

Texas Eastern has asked FERC to approve the project by Nov. 20. The company plans to have the project partially entered into service by Nov. 1, 2016, with a full in-service target of Aug. 1, 2017.