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More modest batch of US natural gas pipelines seek to start service for winter 2019-20

Highlights

Requests include Risberg Line, Gateway Expansion, Lambertville East

Spire request faces opposition from some landowners

Washington — Several US natural gas pipeline developers are seeking federal regulators' permission to start service in time for the heating season in the eastern US and Midcontinent, but the capacity coming on tap pales in comparison to recent years.

Among those asking for the nod from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start up this month include the 400,000 Dt/d Spire STL project in Illinois and Missouri; RH energytrans' 55,000 Dt/d Risberg Line in Pennsylvania and Ohio; Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line's 65,000 Dt/d Gateway Expansion in New Jersey; and the Lambertville East Expansion, a Texas Eastern Transmission compression project adding 60,000 Dt/d in New Jersey.

New capacity placed into service in the Northeast US this winter will be significantly less than in years past. The Gateway Expansion, Lambertville East Expansion and the Risberg line together would add just 190,000 Dt/d of new capacity in Northeast markets this winter -- compared with the roughly 4.5 million Dt/d of capacity added in the fourth quarter of 2018.

NORTHEAST SLOWDOWN

The past several years saw a wave of producer-backed projects enter service in the Northeast, mainly adding takeaway capacity out of constrained Appalachian producing areas. Transco's 1.7 Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise, Columbia Gas Transmission's 1.3 Bcf/d WB XPress and the 1.5 Bcf/d Nexus Gas Transmission projects all began service in late 2018, followed by the 2.7 Bcf/d Mountaineer XPress project in the first quarter of 2019.

The buildout has slowed dramatically, to the point where essentially no major pipeline projects are currently under construction in the Northeast. The remaining greenfield projects left in the queue -- Mountain Valley Pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline and PennEast Pipeline -- have been beset by various legal challenges and permitting delays, driving up expected costs and pushing back targeted in-service dates.

Spire STL's 65-mile, 400,000 Dt/d project will move gas from Rockies Express Pipeline in Scott County, Illinois, to the eastern portion of Missouri. A request at FERC filed last week sought approval by Thursday for portions of the 24-inch-diameter pipeline, the North County Extension, the REX receipt station, the Laclede/Lange Delivery Station and the Chain of Rocks Delivery Station. It left out a stretch of pipeline connecting to the Mississippi River Transmission interconnect, with Spire expecting to complete this section of pipeline in the spring of 2020.

SPIRE REQUEST, PUSHBACK

Spire's request was quickly opposed at FERC by landowners in Illinois and Missouri who contended FERC should deny it because of "the extensive number of complaints filed against Spire that remain unaddressed, along with the pending Illinois Environmental Protection Agency enforcement proceeding and Spire's unsuccessful remediation efforts."

Perhaps anticipating that pushback, Spire promised FERC it would monitor restoration and vegetation along the rights-of-way and address landowner concerns. It said it had not received notice of any problem areas or non-compliance issues from FERC, aside from those that were previously identified or corrected. It said it continued to work with Illinois regulators, but noted it has disputed alleged violations.

Separately, the Risberg Line comprises 28.3 miles of new 12-inch-diameter pipeline, along with the acquisition and modification of 31.6 miles of eight- and 12-inch-diameter pipeline, as well as two compressor station sites currently used in gathering operations. It would start from an interconnection with Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, and run to a new delivery point with Dominion Energy Ohio in Ashtabula County, Ohio.

The request to enter service covers only the pipeline facilities, which the developer said were "substantially" completed and would allow transport to its only customer's delivery point in North Kingsville, Ohio.

The Lambertville East project, which received its FERC certificate in November 2018, entails replacement of two existing compressor units in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, to allow 60,000 Dt/d of additional firm transportation service from interconnections in Lambertville, New Jersey, and Marietta, Pennsylvania, to city-gates in New Jersey. The project would provide 17,200 hp of compression, including 10,200 hp that replaces existing compression.

The Gateway Expansion entails 33,000 hp at an existing compressor station in Essex County, New Jersey, as well as upgrades at a meter station in Essex and replacement of a meter station in Passaic County.

-- Maya Weber, maya.weber@spglobal.com

-- Eric Brooks, ebrooks@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com