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Washington — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has pushed back the environmental review schedule for the 73-mile, 375 MMcf/d MVP Southgate project, due to recently proposed route changes, and set the timetable for reviewing the 750 MMcf/d Cameron Expansion project in Louisiana.

The natural gas project would connect the mainline of the Mountain Valley Pipeline near Chatham, Virginia, and extend to Rockingham and Alamance counties in North Carolina.

FERC now expects to release a final environmental impact statement for MVP Southgate on February 14, 2020, rather than December 19 of this year as previously proposed. FERC pointed to changes to the route and revised data for resource impact, filed October 23, in explaining the extension.

"Because the supplemental information needs further review and required an additional notice to the landowners affected by the route changes, issued November 15 ... commission staff has revised the schedule for issuance of the final EIS," FERC said.

In a July draft environmental impact statement, FERC staff found the project would have environmental impacts, but those would be reduced to less-than-significant levels through avoidance, minimization and mitigation (CP19-14). The report drew objections from environmental groups, concerns about data gaps from the Fish and Wildlife Service and a request from the Environmental Protection Agency that FERC study an alternative route in North Carolina. Developers of two other pipelines, Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, also touted their ability to offer alternatives that might reduce environmental impacts. The MVP-Southgate project is supported by a 300,000 Dt/d firm contract with the utility Dominion Energy North Carolina, formerly PSNC Energy.

IN-SERVICE TARGET

The project is targeting in-service in 2021, extended from the November 1, 2020, date listed in its initial application at FERC.

The larger, 303-mile, 2 Bcf/d MVP project in October pushed back its in-service target in late 2020 and bumped up its cost estimate to a range of $5.3 billion to $5.5 billion. That project has been targeted by legal challenges to its non-FERC permits, and most recently faced a 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals stay involving its Endangered Species Act authorizations. MVP -- led by EQM Midstream Partners alongside NextEra US Gas Assets, Con Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream -- has said project work should be about 90% complete by the end of 2019.

CAMERON EXPANSION

Separately, FERC announced plans to issue an environmental assessment on March 9 for Texas Eastern Transmission's Cameron Expansion project, which entails a new compressor station in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, as well as three new delivery meter and regulatory stations in Cameron, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis parishes in Louisiana, and other related facilities.

Texas Eastern has asked for FERC approval by July 1 to place the facilities into service by November 1, 2021.

According to the application filed in October, the project is designed to reverse flow on part of Texas Eastern's Line 41 mainline to serve the Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal, which is currently under development. Venture global has signed a 20-year precedent agreement for the full capacity.

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

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com