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FERC approves Columbia's 275 MMcf/d Buckeye XPress pipeline expansion

New York — Columbia Gas Transmission last week obtained federal authorization for a 275 MMcf/d expansion project that involves facilities in Ohio and West Virginia.

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At its regular monthly agenda meeting on Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Buckeye XPress project. The project had lingered even as FERC cleared a group of delayed project decisions at the end of 2019.

In October, Columbia asked FERC for a prompt decision, noting that it already faced a compressed timeframe to complete the project. An environmental assessment for the project was issued back in May with a finding that the project would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the environment.

At the meeting, FERC Commissioner Richard Glick highlighted long-standing differences between his position and that of Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Bernard McNamee over the commission's analysis of the climate impacts of natural gas infrastructure projects.

Buckeye XPress entails replacement of 60.8 miles of 20- and 24-inch-diameter pipeline with about 66.1 miles of new 36-inch-diameter pipeline. The primary purpose, according to parent company TC Energy, is to replace certain portions of Columbia's R-System to ensure continued safe and reliable transportation service.

Through the project, Columbia would abandon and replace pipeline and related facilities in Vinton, Jackson, Gallia and Lawrence counties in Ohio and Wayne County in West Virginia. The pipeline would be replaced with larger, 36-inch-diameter pipeline to match a loop segment put in place by another Columbia project, Leach XPress.

Range Resources production subsidiary Range Resources-Appalachia has subscribed to 50,000 Dt/d of firm service that would use part of the expanded capacity under negotiated rates.

The project (CP18-137) features an estimated price tag of $709 million.

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