As part of its strategy to create a major natural gas supply hub in northeastern Pennsylvania, Williams Partners has formed an interstate pipeline joint venture with Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., one of the top producers in the Marcellus Shale.

The companies plan to build the 120-mile-long Constitution Pipeline to connect Williams Partners’ gathering system in Susquehanna County, PA, to the Iroquois Gas Transmission and Tennessee Gas Pipeline systems in Schoharie County, NY. Williams Partners would own 75% of the system and through its affiliates would provide construction, operation and maintenance services. Cabot, which committed to anchor shipments, would own the remaining stake.

The pipeline initially would be able to transport “at least” 500,000 Dth/d of Cabot’s Marcellus production and be expandable to meet growing demand for takeaway capacity in northeast Pennsylvania. An open season was launched Tuesday to gauge further interest. Williams Partners also plans to initiate the pipeline approval process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Information about the open season for Constitution, which is to be held through March 12, is available at or by contacting Gary Duvall at (713) 251-2589.

As production in the Marcellus Shale continues to grow, infrastructure development is racing to keep up, according to a recent analysis by LCI Energy Insight and Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA). “The Marcellus Shale play is the fastest growing gas play in the U.S. In 2012, it is projected to account for over 40% of expected increases in U.S. shale production and approximately one-third of the increases in shale production in 2013,” it said (see Shale Daily, Feb. 21).

Meanwhile, Williams Partners has completed its acquisition of the Laser Northeast Gathering System and other midstream businesses from Delphi Midstream Partners LLC (see Shale Daily, Dec. 23, 2011a). The original acquisition, as well as additional pipeline construction, was funded with $329 million in cash and close to 7.5 million partnership units.

The Constitution project, as well as the Laser acquisition, are “key steps” in the partnership’s strategy to create the Susquehanna Supply Hub, Williams Partners said. By 2015 the Susquehanna Supply Hub is expected to be capable of delivering more than 3 Bcf/d of Marcellus output into four major interstate gas pipeline systems.

“We are developing all the key elements of a major new supply area hub, where we can provide Marcellus Shale producers in northeast Pennsylvania with a large-scale gathering system that has significant takeaway capacity to the best available markets,” said Williams CEO Alan Armstrong. Williams owns 72% of the partnership’s general partner. “It’s key to our strategy of providing large-scale infrastructure and continuing to build on our significant fee-based midstream and gas pipeline businesses.”

The partnership’s gathering system in northeastern Pennsylvania now covers three counties with 750 MMcf/d of takeaway capacity. Including the recent start-up of the Springville pipeline (see Shale Daily, Jan. 23), the gathering system connects to its Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco), as well as Tennessee and the Millennium Pipeline.

Williams Partners also is holding an open season through April 2 for the remaining capacity on its 260-mile Atlantic Access Project, which would carry more than 1 Bcf/d of Appalachian gas supply to eastern markets along the Atlantic Seaboard by late 2014 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 7). The pre-filing review of the project filed with FERC in December indicates that the project would enable Transco to move natural gas through about 350 miles of new pipe from receipt points in Marshall County, WV and Butler County, PA to connect to Transco’s Station 195 in York County, PA (see Shale Daily, Dec. 23, 2011b). The plan calls for additional equipment for the Transco mainline, including compression to facilitate bi-directional flow.