(Reuters) – EQM Midstream Partners LP said on Thursday it expects to complete the $4.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia in the fourth quarter of 2019 despite remaining legal challenges against the project.
The company said in its fourth quarter earnings release that Mountain Valley was about 70 percent complete.
EQM said it is working through the project’s remaining legal challenges, including securing a Nationwide 12 Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for stream and waterbody crossings.
In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with arguments from environmental groups and vacated the project’s Nationwide 12 Permit because its proposed construction methods violated a special condition in West Virginia, requiring stream crossings to be completed within 72 hours.
In addition to EQM’s Mountain Valley, environmental legal challenges have also slowed construction of Dominion Energy Inc’s Atlantic Coast gas pipe from West Virginia to North Carolina.
Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast are the biggest pipelines under construction to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada.
When EQM started construction in February 2018, it estimated the project would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018.
The 303-mile (488-kilometer) pipeline is designed to deliver 2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas to meet growing demand for the fuel for power generation and other uses in the U.S. Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
Mountain Valley is owned by units of EQM, NextEra Energy Inc, Consolidated Edison Inc, AltaGas Ltd and RGC Resources Inc. EQM will operate the pipeline and owns a significant interest in the venture.
Equitrans Midstream Corp owns the general partner interest, the incentive distribution rights, and a 30.6 percent limited partner interest in EQM.
EQM is also developing the $555-million Hammerhead project that will run 64 miles between Pennsylvania and West Virginia
Hammerhead is designed to feed 1.6 bcfd of gas into Mountain Valley and the Ohio Valley Connector when it enters service in the fourth quarter of 2019. EQM has a contract to transport 1.2 bcfd of gas from EQT Corp, the nation’s biggest gas producer and the former parent of EQM and Equitrans Midstream.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio