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Transco, Columbia seek early FERC review of brownfield expansions to serve VNG

Highlights

Would add about 100,000 Dt/d to reach southeast Virginia

Supply source for VNG after ACP project cancellation

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and Columbia Gas Transmission have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to enter the early review process for linked projects that combined would move gas to Virginia Natural Gas markets.

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The companies Dec. 1 filed separate prefiling requests with the commission, each seeking to add about 100,000 Dt/d on their systems to serve local distribution company VNG by November 2025.

Transco's Commonwealth Energy Connector Project (PF22-4) entails installing added one 30,500 hp electric-motor-drive compressor at Station 168 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, about six miles of new pipeline within Transco's existing right-of-way in Virginia, and expansion of a meter station in Greensville County, Virginia.

The project would enable firm service from Compression Station 165 in Transco's Zone 5 Pool in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to the existing Emporia delivery point in Greensville County on the South Virginia Lateral, where VNG has contracted with Columbia to build the Virginia Reliability Project to provide transportation from Emporia to VNG's markets, Transco said in its filing.

Transco expansions

Transco's latest proposal is one of several Northeast projects the company is pursuing to expand its mainline system extending from the Gulf of Mexico to New York City, setting it apart in a region where the rapid pace of pipeline development in recent years has slowed to a crawl.

The prefiling request was filed the same day Transco asked to place into service its Leidy South expansion project, aimed at unlocking new production in northeastern Pennsylvania that will be delivered into its Zone 6 market in the New York metro area. It comes as the pipeline operator also seeks to expand its system in the upper Northeast through its Regional Energy Access expansion, targeted for service by 2023.

The Commonwealth Energy Connector appears to help fill the void left by the 2020 cancellation of the 1.5 Bcf/d Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, which would have created a greenfield path to transport production sourced in southwestern Appalachia to Mid-Atlantic demand centers.

VNG had previously subscribed to 75 MMcf/d of capacity on ACP. The upstream receipt point of the Transco project, at Station 165 in Virginia, coincides with the terminus of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which remains targeted for completion by mid-2022, but has faced substantial headwinds and cost increases during its nearly four years of active construction.

Columbia proposal

In its prefiling letter, Columbia told FERC its Virginia Reliability Project (PF22-3) would add 100 MMcf/d of incremental mainline capacity on Columbia's system to serve delivery points in southeast Virginia.

The project involves installation of a new 5,500 hp dual drive compressor unit at the existing Emporia Compressor Station, addition of 2,700 hp at the Petersburg Compressor Station in Prince George County, Virginia, expansion of the Emporia receipt point, and replacement of about 48 miles of existing pipeline, along with valve replacements and other appurtenant facilities.

In pitching the project, Columbia noted, according to VNG, that Virginia's Hampton Roads hosts many large employers, including military installations and shipbuilding industries, many of which receive interruptible gas service.

"While service interruptions on the extremely cold days are limited and seasonal, they demonstrate the problem that no new, large firm customers can be added to the project shipper's current system to support the regional economy without adding new upstream natural gas pipeline capacity," the company wrote.

It told the regulator that the Emporia compressor station would use "state-of-the-art, emission and environmentally friendly Dual Drive Technologies" that would run exclusively as electric drive during normal operations.

Columbia planned to file an application at FERC in the third quarter of 2022, with an eye toward commission approval in Q4-23 and the start of construction in early 2024.

Transco anticipated filing its application in August 2022 and seeking FERC approval by September 2023.