Equitrans Confirms Early 2021 Startup for Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline

By Jeff Awalt, Executive Editor

(P&GJ) — After a long series of legal challenges and delays that resulted in dramatically higher construction costs, developers can finally see light at the end of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). 

Only a small stretch of construction remains for the $5.4 billion project, Equitrans Midstream said in its announcement of second-quarter results Tuesday, and completion is expected by early next year.

“We are very pleased with the recent legal and regulatory progress made on MVP and look forward to getting shovels back in the ground on this important project," Equitrans Midstream President and Chief Operating Officer Diana Charletta said of the natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia.

"MVP plays a critical role in meeting the growing demand for reliable, affordable, and clean-burning natural gas in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States,” Charletta said. “We appreciate the oversight of the various state and federal agencies that have helped guide our construction activities and expect to complete the roughly 8 percent remaining total project work by early 2021."

When construction started in early 2018, MVP was estimated to cost $3.5 billion and be finished by the end of that year, but it was mired in a series of legal challenges to federal permits. Equitrans said it expects capital costs of between $570 million and $610 million for MVP this year. 

“In order to adapt the construction plan for potential complex judicial decisions and regulatory changes, total project costs may still increase another 5 percent,” to $5.7 billion, Equitrans said Tuesday

On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision and reaffirmed the U.S. Forest Service's authority to allow Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail.  Dominion Energy and Duke Energy have since abandoned the Atlantic Coast project, citing regulatory uncertainty, but that positive Supreme Court ruling cleared the path for MVP's Appalachian Trail crossing.

The Mountain Valley joint venture is comprised of Equitrans Midstream, NextEra Capital Holdings, Con Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream. Equitrans will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest in the JV.

MVP is one of several pipelines that have struggled to overcome regulatory and legal challenges despite permit approvals under the Trump administration.  TC Energy's $8 billion Keystone XL crude oil pipeline and Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline are still involved in legal disputes.

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