As reported by The Scranton Times-Tribune, Pennsylvania State Representative Scott Petri (R-178th Leg. Dist., Bucks County) recently introduced legislation that would allow the Turnpike Commission to grant pipeline operators the right to use its existing right-of-way for the construction of parallel gas pipelines in exchange for a transmission fee. Representative Petri asserts that passage of the bill will ultimately generate state revenue and minimize the impact of transmission line development on private property owners. Although the Turnpike Commission has not yet determined how much of the state’s 550 mile turnpike system may be suitable for parallel gas pipelines, the proposed legislation comes at a time when midstream development and operations in the Marcellus Shale are on the rise, as state officials predict that thousands of miles of new pipelines will be needed to transport gas to new markets. Representative Petri also suggests that Interstates 80 and 79, which span 311.07 miles and 182.72 miles in Pennsylvania, respectively, could provide additional opportunities for parallel gas pipelines upon federal approval.
As previously reported, in November 2014, the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas granted the condemnation of a temporary construction easement to UGI Penn Natural Gas, Inc., a public utility. As a result, UGI was allowed to use the easement to park and store vehicles, equipment and materials related to the construction and maintenance of a pipeline which is to provide gas service to the Moxie/Panda Electric Generation Plant. Law360 reported that the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently issued a pair of opinions upholding the decision of the trial court. CourtListener recently posted a copy of the opinions. Among other findings concerning the timeliness of the landowners’ claims, the Commonwealth Court concluded that: (1) a pipeline meant to supply a power plant could constitute a public utility service; and (2) the scope of UGI’s taking was not greater than necessary to acquire the property rights in connection with the easement. In short, the court determined that the landowners’ challenges were meritless.
According to the Washington Observer-Reporter, a formal application for the Mountain Valley Pipeline was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) last week. The pipeline will extend 301 miles and connect the shale gas fields of northwestern West Virginia with Pittsylvania in western Virginia. FERC has acknowledged receipt of the pipeline application and will soon set a 30-day public comment period.
Energy Transfer Partners LP announced that it will invest $1.5 billion for a new pipeline system and processing facilities to serve the Marcellus Shale in and around Butler County, Pennsylvania. The new facilities are expected to be operational by mid-2017. Natural Gas Intelligence reported that the pipeline and facilities are part of a long-term natural gas gathering agreement between ETP and EdgeMarc Energy to serve EdgeMarc’s active wells in the region, but the facilities are also expected to accept third party gas in the future. The project plans include over 100 miles of high pressure pipeline and a cryogenic gas processing plant that will be located in western Pennsylvania near Butler County, providing an additional 440 MMcf/d of gathering capacity in the area. The plant will deliver gas to ETP’s Rover pipeline, which is expected to deliver gas to markets in the Midwest, Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions beginning in 2017. ETP’s pipeline will also deliver natural gas liquids to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex on the Delaware River, which is being repurposed for natural gas liquid storage, processing and distribution to foreign and domestic markets.
Marcellus.com reports that an intrastate pipeline is under construction in northern West Virginia. The Stonewall Gas Gathering pipeline will connect Doddridge and Harrison counties to the Columbia Transmission interstate pipeline that runs through Braxton County, West Virginia. Wisconsin-based Precision Pipeline has been contracted to build the pipeline, which plans to hire approximately half of the necessary employees from local areas. The pipeline will help to fill the need for new infrastructure from gas producing areas in West Virginia to other markets. Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Natural Gas Association of West Virginia, stated that “[c]ustomers and producers are ready and waiting for pipelines that connect gas wells to markets.”
On May 27, 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the formation of a task force to help the Commonwealth, the natural gas industry and communities partner for the development of new pipeline infrastructure to allow natural gas and related byproducts to more effectively reach the market. The task force will focus on creating a series of best practices for the planning, siting and routing of pipelines. It is projected that Pennsylvania may see the construction of up to 25,000 miles of gathering lines in the next decade, and possibly another 4,000 to 5,000 miles of midstream and transmission lines. John Quigley, the acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will serve as chairman of the task force. The Governor will seek representatives from state agencies, the legislature, federal and local governments, the pipeline and natural gas industries and environmental groups to join the task force. Some of the goals of the task force are to plan construction practices that reduce environmental impact, establish a predictable and efficient permitting process, develop long-term operations and maintenance plans and engage in meaningful public participation.
FuelFix.com reports that the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that the Constitution Pipeline can be built across seven northeastern Pennsylvania properties despite the fact that the respective landowners had not agreed to the construction. The Constitution Pipeline is a 124-mile pipeline project designed to transport Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania to New York and New England. It would connect with the existing Tennessee and Iroquois pipelines in New York. Its partner companies, including Williams Partners LP and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., sought access to 130 properties in Pennsylvania and filed condemnation proceedings regarding 20. Agreements were reached with 13 of the 20 landowners. Judge Malachy Mannion ruled that the pipeline has the necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and that it serves the public interest by increasing gas pipeline capacity. Judge Mannion also noted that the landowners stood to gain adequate compensation from the pipeline’s owners. A spokesman for Williams stated that the group hopes to begin construction by June 1st after obtaining additional permits and posting the necessary bond.
StateImpact reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved an addition to the interstate Transco pipeline that will transport Marcellus shale gas to New Jersey, where there is a high demand. The approval comes after several other pipeline expansions to New York and New England were recently approved. The Leidy Southeast line will total approximately 30 miles in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is scheduled to be completed by late 2015.
StateImpact, a reporting collaboration supported by NPR, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a proposed interstate pipeline that would transport Marcellus Shale natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York and New England markets. The 30-inch pipeline would cover 124 miles, connecting gas production in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to existing transmission lines in New York. The pipeline will be operated by subsidiaries of Williams Partners, Cabot Oil and Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas, and WGL Holdings. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation must still issue final permits.
As reported on Bloomberg.com, Spectra Energy Corporation, a Houston-based pipeline operator, and Northeast Utilities, a Connecticut-based utility provider, have partnered in proposing a $3 billion pipeline expansion that will increase natural gas supply to the six New England states. The project, known as “Access Northeast,” will provide fuel for power plants and home heating in an attempt to combat soaring energy prices in the New England region. According to the report, power prices in New England reached a 6-year high last spring due to extreme cold temperatures and a shortfall in pipeline capacity, which restricted gas supply. The proposed Access Northeast project plans to boost the capacity of Spectra’s existing Algonquin and Maritimes pipelines, by as much as 1 billion cubic feet per day and create additional delivery points for local distribution. The project is expected to be in service by November 2018.
According to the report, Access Northeast is not the only pipeline project aimed at connecting the booming Marcellus Shale gas formation with other states: (i) Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP’s proposed “Northeast Energy Direct” project will also supply natural gas to New England, (ii) Duke Energy Corp., Dominion Resources, Inc., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and AGL Resources Inc. have partnered to construct a $5 billion pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina, (iii) NextEra Energy Inc. and EQT have paired up to build a 330-mile pipeline from West Virginia to the southeastern states, and (iv) Spectra is also seeking to expand its Texas Eastern pipeline system in Ohio pursuant to an agreement with American Electric Power Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp.