Mountain Valley Pipeline Expects WV-VA Natural Gas Pipe in Service by Early June

(Reuters) — U.S. natural gas pipeline venture Mountain Valley Pipeline pushed back the target in-service date of its long-delayed pipe from West Virginia to Virginia to early June from the prior target of "prior to June 1".

The company told federal energy regulators in a filing late Tuesday that the small delay was "due to the extended construction duration to achieve weld-out, which has been associated with weather and environmental protection."

The $7.85 billion Mountain Valley project is the only big gas pipeline under construction in the U.S. Northeast. It has encountered numerous regulatory and court fights that have stopped work several times since construction began in 2018.

The pipe, which is key to unlocking gas supplies from Appalachia, the nation's biggest shale gas-producing region, needed a bill from the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President Joe Biden and help from the Supreme Court before it could restart construction.

On April 22, Mountain Valley sought authorization from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to put the project in service by May 23 to meet the "prior to June 1" in service target.

Since then, Mountain Valley said in the FERC filing that the project is nearly “welded out,” with fewer than ten welds remaining to allow testing for mechanical completion out of more than 51,000 welds project-wide.

Hydro testing has been successfully completed on approximately 99% of the project facilities, with the final hydrotest to be completed shortly after weld-out, the company said.

Earlier in May, the company said it repaired a segment of pipe that failed a water test.

Commissioning is complete for all project compressor stations and facilities are packed with gas between the northern terminus of the project and milepost 186.1, the company also said.

When Mountain Valley started construction in February 2018, U.S. energy company Equitrans Midstream with a roughly 49% interest, the lead partner building the project, estimated the 2.0-billion cubic feet per day project would cost about $3.5 billion and enter service by late 2018.

The 303-mile (488-kilometer) Mountain Valley project is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy, Consolidated Edison, AltaGas and RGC Resources. Equitrans will operate the pipeline.

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