MVP and ACP in Work Stoppage Mode, Some Work Ongoing

by Duane Nichols on August 25, 2018

Impacts of pipelines severe in VA and WV

Mountain Valley Pipeline releases as much as half of workforce due to stoppage

From an Article by Charles Young, West Virginia News, August 20, 2018

CLARKSBURG — The Mountain Valley Pipeline project has released as much as 50 percent of its construction workforce as a result of the recent court-ordered work stoppage.

The delay will push the project’s proposed completion date to “the last quarter of 2019,” according to Natalie Cox, corporate director of communications for EQT.

“Because of the continued work stoppage order that impacts more than 200 miles of the project’s route, MVP has released as much as 50 percent of its construction workforce,” she said.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project of EQT and several other partners, has a proposed route spanning more than 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The pipeline will be used to supply natural gas from Marcellus and Utica Shale production to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic.

The project’s original in-service completion date was targeted for “late 2018,” according to Cox.

The company was recently ordered to stop all work after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said EQT and its partners hadn’t obtained rights of way or temporary use permits needed for the pipeline to cross federally owned lands since the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals canceled permits in early August.

FERC issued a modified order Thursday allowing for work to continue on part of the proposed route in West Virginia, Cox said.

“The modification allows construction to restart for approximately 77 miles of the route in West Virginia, with exception of a 7-mile area located in proximity to the Weston Gauley Bridge Turnpike Trail,” she said.

Although work will continue in this area, many of the other workers have been released until FERC gives the green light for full construction to continue, Cox said.

“Despite the construction activities authorized under the modified work order and the FERC-approved stabilization plan, MVP was forced to take immediate measures to address an idled workforce and protect the integrity of the project,” she said.

“MVP is working to mitigate any additional job loss; and we believe we are making progress to receive authorization to resume full construction activities and return the currently released workers back to their jobs.”

In its original work stoppage order, FERC gave indications that the stoppage would not be permanent.

“There is no reason to believe that the Forest Service or the Army Corps of Engineers, as the land managing agencies, or the Bureau of Land Management, as the federal rights of grantor, will not be able to comply with the Court’s instructions and to ultimately issue new right-of-way grants that satisfy the Court’s requirements,” FERC wrote in its order.

The other major pipeline project currently underway in West Virginia, Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, was also recently ordered to halt work in most areas.

In the wake of a U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that nixed Dominion’s proposed right-of-way crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway and vacated an Incidental Take Statement issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FERC ordered a halt to all construction.

Later FERC granted permission for construction to continue on two “critical road bores” — one at Mount Carmel Road in Upshur County and one at U.S. 50 near Bridgeport — as well as certain activities at the Mockingbird Hill Compressor Station in Wetzel County.

The stoppage order has not impacted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s workforce, according to spokesman Aaron Ruby.

“We’re encouraging our contractors to stay in the area so they’re ready to resume construction at a moment’s notice,” he said. “We’re confident the agencies can quickly reissue the permits, and we’ll get back to work as soon as possible.”


ACP Pipeline hoping shutdown is resolved within a matter of weeks

From an Article of the Record Delta, Buckhannon WV, August 25, 2018

BUCKHANNON — Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials told the Upshur County Commission Thursday the company expects work to resume on the natural gas pipeline within a matter of weeks.

“Everybody’s hoping it’s really weeks and nothing more than that,” ACP community liaison Mike Cozad said at the commission’s weekly meeting Thursday. “That’s based on things that have occurred with our pipeline, and the feeling is, it’s going to be weeks, and not a longer issue.”

ACP is a joint venture to build a 42-inch-wide natural gas pipeline that will span 600 miles from Harrison County, West Virginia into Virginia and Robeson County, North Carolina; Dominion Energy is the lead developer and operator of the pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a Stop Work Order Friday after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated two key permits — one of which had been issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was designed to protect threatened or endangered species. The second is a right-of-way permit issued by the U.S. National Park Service that would have allowed the pipeline to pass beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway and required boring into a mountain along the scenic highway, he said.

Cozad said the work stoppage shouldn’t affect the pipeline’s impact on the local economy. “You shouldn’t see anything changing as far as the number of people out in town during the day — maybe more so,” he said. “They’ve got time now to do that. The hotels are still full, no one’s going to be leaving.”

Dominion Energy workers and employees of the energy company’s contractors are still being paid, and they have several tasks to complete despite the work stoppage, Cozad added.

“We have some limited things we can do to keep the right-of-way stabilized and that our environmental controls are being maintained and those kinds of things, so nothing gets out of whack in that regard, so there’s a little bit of things that need to be kept up if you will.”

Local environmental activist April Pierson-Keating asked Cozad whether ACP has turned in its stabilization plan, but Cozad said it had not yet been completed.

“It has not been finalized yet,” Cozad said. “Our stabilization plan is what we’re allowed to do to wrap things up that, really, if they’re left undone, it’s worse than going ahead and doing it.”

One example in Upshur County is Mt. Carmel Road, where work was well underway when the SWO was issued.

“The (W.Va. Department of Highways) DOH has requested that we go ahead and finish that bore, get it all stabilized, fill it back in so it’s actually less of a hazard than it is right now when remaining open, so that’s the kinds of thing that the stabilization plan takes into account,” Cozad said. “If you have any clout or anything, please contact anybody you can and tell them to get this thing going. It’s having a big impact on a lot of folks in ways that you couldn’t imagine. All of these things cost money, which ultimately impacts the cost of the gas supplied down the road.”

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MVP Update August 27, 2018 at 8:46 pm

Dominion Buying a Piece of Competitive Mountain Valley Pipeline

>>> From an Update in Marcellus Drilling News, August 27, 2018

Here’s some dots that we’ve not seen anyone else connect.

There are two competing pipeline projects that generally run along the same route to shuttle Marcellus/Utica gas to the southeastern U.S. One project is EQT Midstream’s Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which runs from 303 miles from West Virginia into southern Virginia. MVP is facing a court case that’s idled three-fourths of the project, leading to a layoff of “thousands” of workers (see FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’).

The other project is Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a 600+ mile pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, almost to the border with South Carolina. ACP is currently idled because of a similar court case (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). Both EQT and Dominion believe the court order and FERC’s directive is only a temporary setback. Both believe their projects will be completed sometime next year. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Although MVP has not officially filed with FERC (yet), they do plan to expand from the current termination point in Pittsylvania County, VA another 70 miles into North Carolina (see Mountain Valley Pipeline Launches Plan to Expand 70 Miles into NC). That new portion of MVP is called the Southgate project. Last week PSNC Energy, based in North Carolina, purchased a 30% share in the MVP Southgate project. PSNC is a subsidiary of South Carolina-based SCANA Corp. Sound familiar? Dominion Energy is right now in the process of closing a deal to buy/merge in SCANA Corp. (see FERC Approves Dominion Energy/SCANA Merger – Deal Still Alive). Ergo, Dominion is buying a 30% stake in its primary competitor to flow Marcellus/Utica gas south…..

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