March 2020, Vol. 247, No. 3


Williams Drops Plans for Constitution Pipeline into New York

PGJ Staff Report

Williams Cos canceled its Constitution natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York in the wake of years of opposition from environmental groups and others in New York.

The decision came despite FERC ruling the state had forfeited its ability to rule on a water permit by taking too much time to deny the application. Williams reported recently the Constitution project had made a $354 million dent in its 2019 earnings.

“The underlying risk adjusted return for this greenfield pipeline project has diminished in such a way that further development is no longer supported,” the company said in a statement to the media.

Williams said its existing pipeline network and other expansions will offer greater returns to investors than projects such as the Constitution, which are hampered by regulatory uncertainties.

The Constitution pipeline, which is owned by subsidiaries of Williams, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, Duke Energy Corp and AltaGas, was designed to carry 650 MMcf/d of Marcellus shale from Pennsylvania across 125 miles (200 km) to New York. 

“Although Constitution did receive positive outcomes in recent court proceedings and permit applications, the economics associated with this greenfield project have since changed in such a way that they no longer justify investment,” Duke spokeswoman Tammie McGee told the Associated Press in an email.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved construction of the pipeline in December 2014, but legal and regulatory battles followed not long after that.

Further complicating the process, records show if the pipeline had been built it would have crossed 251 bodies of water, including 89 trout spawning streams, and sensitive ecological areas such as forest land and undisturbed springs.

Other gas pipelines that have stalled in New York include Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York, and National Fuel Gas Co’s Northern Access from Pennsylvania to New York.

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