FERC Regains Ability to Certificate New Pipelines

(November 6, 2017) — The Energy Information Administration commented Oct. 30, 2017, that five new pipeline projects in the Northeast received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October, the first projects approved since February. FERC regained its quorum in August after the Senate confirmed two new commissioners.

The confirmations ended a six-month period when the agency was unable to issue certificates to allow construction of interstate energy transmission infrastructure, including natural gas pipeline projects. FERC did not have a quorum beginning in February 2017 when the number of commissioners fell below the required minimum of three.  The final two commissioners await a floor vote by the Senate.

The five projects approved in October are designed to increase the delivery capacity from the Northeast’s Utica and Marcellus natural gas-producing regions. They include the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 2-Bcfd, 303-mile line from West Virginia to Virginia; and the Equitrans Expansion Project, about eight miles of pipeline expansions providing 0.6 Bcfd from Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

Also approved were the Supply Header Pipeline, a 1.5-Bcfd, 38-mile pipeline from West Virginia to Pennsylvania; the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 1.5-Bcfd, 600-mile line from West Virginia to North Carolina; and the Eastern Shore 2017 Expansion Project, 40 miles of pipeline expansions providing 0.061 Bcfd from Pennsylvania to Delaware.

Before losing its quorum, FERC had certificated more than 7 Bcfd of pipeline capacity. Since then, as of Oct. 24, 12 applications have been submitted for projects transmitting natural gas in the U.S. Forty-six pipeline projects have FERC applications in process. The capacity of all these projects totals about 40 Bcfd, covering more than 2500 miles of both new and upgraded pipeline construction. In comparison, Lower 48 states have more than 300,000 miles of interstate and intrastate natural gas transmission in use.

The eight largest projects by capacity account for slightly less than 20 Bcfd, or more than 60% of the capacity for all pending natural gas pipeline applications. Six of the projects, located in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, are intended to support LNG export projects. The construction of five of these lines will likely be tied to the approval of the associated LNG export terminals.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, November 6, 2017)