Originally planned to be operational in 2018, the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s in-service date has been extended, again. The pipeline’s owners are now planning on bringing the pipeline online in 2023, but a permitting battle still looms.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a 303-mile-long natural gas pipeline is planned to transport gas from shale plays in West Virginia south to processing facilities in Virginia. The project is a joint venture between EQM Midstream Partners, NextEra Capital Holdings, Con Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream, and RGC Midstream. EQM and NextEra hold a majority of ownership for the project; the former with 47 percent ownership, and the latter with 32 percent.
Work on the pipeline began shortly after the project received its certification from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has regulatory jurisdiction over the pipeline, in 2018. Original cost estimates for the project totaled $3.5 billion. The project has endured several delays, primarily legal and regulatory in nature. Most recently, the project had permits allowing the pipeline to cross through a national forest revoked through a judicial ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Though pushback has been significant, the owners of the project are committed to finishing the pipeline, which now means trying to obtain the necessary permits again. Chairman and CEO of Equitrans, Thomas Karam, indicated in a press statement that project owners have been “evaluating all options” with federal regulators and that the “best path forward…is to pursue new permits”.
Whether those permits are issued is unknown. However, if permits are not granted, those involved with the project stand to lose billions. Updated costs for the project have doubled the original estimates, now totaling an estimated $6.3 billion.
While the company argues that the pipeline is needed to meet domestic energy needs, opposition continues on environmental issues. Pipelines remain a major sticking point if natural gas production is to increase and if exports of liquefied natural gas are boosted.