(Reuters) -Virginia environmental regulators have proposed stream-crossing rules that analysts say may delay startup of the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline to 2022, but the companies involved said on Tuesday they were sticking with their late-2021 target.
Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman at Equitrans Midstream Corp, one of the companies building the pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia, said the Mountain Valley team was aware of the revised state regulations but “remains confident in achieving its targeted in-service date of late 2021, at a total cost estimate of $5.8-$6.0 billion.”
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released a letter this week that would bar gas pipes with a diameter of 36 inches (91.4 cm) or more from using the U.S. Army Corp’s proposed 2020 Nationwide Permits to cross streams.
Mountain Valley, currently under construction, will use pipe 42 inches in diameter to transport 2.0 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Marcellus/Utica shale formation in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio to Virginia. One billion cubic feet is enough to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
Mountain Valley is one of several oil and gas pipes delayed in recent years by regulatory and legal fights with states and environmental groups that found problems with permits issued by the Trump administration. Instead of using the Nationwide Permit program, which would cover all stream crossings with one permit, the Virginia DEQ wants big gas pipes to seek individual stream-crossing permits, which analysts at Height Capital Markets said would likely push the in-service date for Mountain Valley into 2022.
When construction of Mountain Valley started in February 2018, Equitrans estimated the 303-mile (487.6-km) pipe would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018.
Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy Inc, Consolidated Edison Inc, AltaGas Ltd and RGC Resources Inc.