FERC has issued a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for EQM Midstream Partners LP’s Southgate Project, which would extend the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s (MVP) reach into North Carolina.

EQM now expects to receive a final environmental impact statement in December and hopes to have the project in service by 4Q2020 subject to various regulatory approvals and completion of the MVP project itself, which has repeatedly been delayed over regulatory and legal issues.

FERC found that approval of the Southgate project would result in some adverse environmental impacts but said that if mitigation measures discussed in the DEIS are implemented, those impacts would be reduced to “less than significant levels.” The DEIS is open to public comment until Sept. 16.

The 70-mile Southgate pipeline would receive gas from MVP in Virginia and transport it to new delivery points in Rockingham and Alamance counties, NC. The project is expected to cost $450-500 million and is backed by a 300 MMcf/d commitment from utility PSNC Energy, which is now Dominion Energy, following a merger with parent Scana Corp. earlier this year.

EQM said Southgate has been designed with an expansion capacity of up to 900 MMcf/d.

The project proposes constructing about 31 miles of 24-inch diameter pipe from the MVP mainline in Pittsylvania County, VA, to the Dan River Interconnect with Dominion in Rockingham County; about 42 miles of 16-inch diameter pipeline from the Dan River Interconnect to an interconnect with Dominion facilities at Haw River in Alamance County; a 28,915 hp compressor station in Pittsylvania County; and an interconnect with East Tennessee Natural Gas Transmission LLC, along with other facilities and equipment.

But MVP faces an uphill battle. While it is 85% complete some of its approvals and permits have been vacated and remain pending. Costs have slowly crept up as a result and are now estimated at up to $5 billion. The project timeline also has been pushed back, most recently from 4Q2019 to mid-2020.

MVP would move 2 Bcf/d of Appalachian natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia and connect with the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line to tap markets in the Southeast.