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Staff recommends Transco's 1.7-Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise project to FERC

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Staff recommends Transco's 1.7-Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise project to FERC

FERCstaff issued a favorable draft environmental impact statement for 's1.7-Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project that would connect the MarcellusShale to markets in the U.S. Southeast.

Inthe May 5 document, FERC Office of Energy Projects staff said construction ofthe mostly greenfield pipeline project would result in some impacts on theenvironment, but "most of these would be reduced to less-than-significantlevels with the implementation of Transco's proposed mitigation and theadditional measures recommended in the draft EIS."

FERCwill use the environmental impact statement, or EIS, in its final decision onTransco's application for a certificate for the project. FERC saidin March that it will not issue EIS until October, but a Transco spokesman said the company doesnot expect the project to move from its expected in-service date in the secondhalf of 2017.

AlanArmstrong, president and CEO of WilliamsCos. Inc. and WilliamsPartners LP, said in an earnings call on the same morning thatAtlantic Sunrise is making good progress on federal and state permits. Transcois an affiliate of the Williams family.

Areport by Washington Analysis LLC's Rob Rains and Tim VandenBerg said theAtlantic Sunrise environmental document leads them to expect commissionapproval by the end of 2016 or early 2017. This is for shippers, which includeCabot Oil & Gas Corp.,Anadarko Energy Services Co.,Chief Oil & Gas LLC,Seneca Resources Corp.,Southwestern Energy Services Co.and WGL Midstream Inc.

Amongthe many sections in the draft EIS, FERC staff examined cumulative impacts,including those from nearby interstate gas pipeline projects such as theproposed PennEast project and planned MARC II project.

"Basedon various combinations of their distance from the proposed and plannedprojects, scope, and schedule, construction and operation of some of theaforementioned FERC-jurisdictional projects could contribute to cumulativeimpacts in the areas where they cross or are close to the Atlantic Sunriseproject," staff wrote. "These cumulative effects, however, are notexpected to be significant."

Staffalso concluded that the possibility of terrorism should not get in the way of "thecontinuing need to construct facilities to support the future natural gaspipeline infrastructure."

Staffrecommended that before any FERC approval, Transco should completearchaeological and architectural surveys and file the results, which thecommission would then review.

Transcoapplied for the estimated$2.6 billion project in March 2015. The project would put in place an almost200-mile pipeline. It would include 183.7 miles of 30- and 42-inch-diameterpipeline in Pennsylvania, 11.5 miles of 36- and 42-inch-diameter pipelinelooping in Pennsylvania, 2.5 miles of pipeline replacements in Virginia, andassociated equipment and facilities. It would also include two new compressorstations in Pennsylvania; modifications to three compressor stations inPennsylvania and Maryland; and minor modifications at facilities inPennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina to allow forbidirectional flow of gas. (CP15-138)