Two Marcellus, Utica area natural gas pipelines approved

Two Marcellus, Utica area natural gas pipelines approved

The executive order that gave TransCanada the go ahead to pursue completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline stole the spotlight from two smaller, but still substantial pipeline projects received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A TransCanada press release announced the approval for the construction of the Leach XPress and RayneXPress projects. Both will provide natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica production areas to Midwest and Gulf Coast Markets.

The $1.4 billion Leach XPress will transport 1.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas across the northern panhandle of West Virginia and then through southeastern Ohio.

The Rayne XPress will provide natural gas to the Gulf Coast region and includes two new compressor stations to increase the Rayne Pipeline’s capacity by 1.0 Bcf/d.

Marcellus Drilling News reported that the two pipelines have not been without controversy, despite limited publicity.

Last June the Obama EPA tried to derail the projects (see Federal EPA Throws Cold Water on Leach XPress, Rayne Xpress Pipes). However, FERC ignored the EPA and moved forward (a latter day miracle).

Last June, Natural Gas Intelligence laid out the EPA’s concerns, citing mostly insufficient information in regards to its environmental impact and the alternative options for pipelines in the area that would eliminate the necessity of the Leach, including the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline, which would require far fewer miles of pipeline in order to expand capacity. The article also noted that most of the possible impacts of the Leach could likely be minimized with mitigation plans.

TransCanada has a November 1, 2017 in-service date for the projects, beginning right-of-way preparation and construction on both of the pipeline projects in February.