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Mountain Valley says pipeline to be 70% done by year-end, affirms $4.6B budget

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC said it expects its 2-Bcf/d natural gas transportation project to be roughly 70% complete by the end of 2018 and affirmed its target of placing the project fully in service by the fourth quarter of 2019.

The pipeline developer also reaffirmed the project's total $4.6 billion project cost in a Dec. 13 news release.

Mountain Valley expected to complete welding on about 58% of the pipeline and to be finished with construction on all compressor stations and interconnects by February 2019. The company is a joint venture of EQM Midstream Partners LP, NextEra Energy Inc., WGL Midstream Inc., Con Edison Transmission Inc. and RGC Midstream LLC.

Mountain Valley spokeswoman Natalie Cox had said the project is still expected to be operational by the end of 2019 despite the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit vacating the project's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit. Mountain Valley has been working with West Virginia regulators to resolve its issue with the removal of the project's Clean Water Act nationwide permit 12.

Energy industry analysts Rob Rains and Gianna Kinsman of Washington Analysis LLC said in a Dec. 10 research update that legal and regulatory setbacks for Mountain Valley and the similarly situated Atlantic Coast pipeline construction project led by Dominion Energy Inc. should only produce "manageable financial penalties" and "modest delay," even in the worst case.

"For MVP, the Virginia state Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring's assertions of as many as 300 violations of state and federal environmental laws notably excludes any specific request to the courts to stay construction or rescind state-controlled permits like the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification," Rains said. "While state environmental officials are allowed to unilaterally temporarily halt construction, they do not appear to be attempting that in this case, which we clearly view as a positive sign."

FERC approved the Mountain Valley project in October 2017. It first authorized construction work in January. The 300-mile pipeline would move Appalachian gas from West Virginia to Virginia and interconnect with other pipeline systems to move the gas on to markets in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast. (FERC docket CP16-10)