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Mountain Valley Pipeline Starts Service, Ending a Long Strange Legal Trip for Project

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Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) started commercial service on Friday (June 14), bringing a long and contentious permitting process to a close. The 2 Bcf/d pipeline has the potential to realign flows from the Northeast region, though East Daley expects only modest near-term impacts.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Tuesday (June 11) approved a request by Equitrans Midstream (ETRN) to begin service on MVP after the company had completed all construction and testing of the new pipe. MVP announced the start of service Friday in a notice on its electronic bulletin board, though MVP had not posted flowing gas as of Friday morning.

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Start-up ends a 10-year permitting journey for MVP. ETRN started the pre-filing process for the project in 2014, and FERC certificated MVP in 2017. But landowners and environmental groups successfully challenged the review by state and federal agencies, prompting appellate courts to kick the permits back to FERC and creating a years-long logjam. MVP ultimately was saved by Congress in legislation declaring the project in the public interest.

Mountain Valley runs 303 miles from West Virginia to an interconnect with Williams’ (WMB) Transcontinental Pipe Line (Transco) in southern Virginia. East Daley expects MVP to flow 750 MMcf/d on average in 2024, well below capacity of 2 Bcf/d due to downstream constraints at Transco Zone 5. These constraints will limit flows until 2027, when Transco debottlenecks downstream through its Southeast Supply Enhancement expansion (see map below).

Over the long term, MVP should stimulate new gas demand and midstream infrastructure in underserved areas of the Mid-Atlantic region. ETRN is also developing the 0.5 Bcf/d Southgate project to extend service from MVP into North Carolina. – Alex Gafford and Andrew Ware Tickers: ETRN, WMB.

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