Two Companies Joining Forces to Build Proposed Pipeline for Rio Grande LNG

NextDecade and Enbridge signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Rio Bravo Pipeline together, the two companies announced in a statement released early Wednesday morning. The two companies anticipate finalizing the terms of the MOU during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The partnership will build a pipeline that would move natural gas from the Agua Dulce hub near Corpus Christi to the proposed Rio Grande LNG export terminal at the Port of Brownsville. The approval is still pending from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"Enbridge is one of North America's leading energy infrastructure companies and we look forward to exploring a strong partnership in South Texas," NextDecade CEO Matt Schatzman said in a statement. "With its Texas Eastern Pipeline and recently completed Valley Crossing Pipeline, Enbridge has extensive permitting, construction, and operating experience in the State of Texas, especially in South Texas."

"We are excited to be working with NextDecade for pipeline solutions to the Rio Grande LNG facility," Enbridge President of Gas Transmission and Midstream Bill Yardley said in a statement. "Our existing infrastructure fits very well with the Brownsville location. This is a continuation of our strategy to bring our major projects execution and permitting capability to the expanding LNG export efforts in North America."


FERC Pipeline Decision Will Be Challenged by New York Agency

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's recent decision to allow construction of a 125-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would stretch from northern Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, west of Albany, will be challenged by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, the FERC decision sides with the fossil fuel industry over protecting the environment. But the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based pipeline firm says that the 30-inch-wide pipeline would have the capacity to serve 3 million homes and can help stabilize New York energy prices.

Environmentalists claim these lines will only serve to further the dependence on fossil fuels. The Army Corp of Engineers must approve plans before construction begins.


Commonwealth LNG Permit Application Accepted by FERC

The permit application filed by Commonwealth LNG to build an export terminal in southwest Louisiana was formally accepted by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday morning.

The project is expected to be in service by the second quarter of 2023 as per the timeline submitted in Commonwealth LNG's application. The proposed export terminal will receive 390.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from a pipeline to make 8.4 million metric tons of LNG per year.

The company is seeking permission to build six liquefied natural gas production units known as trains on a 393-acre property along the Calcasieu Ship Channel about 50 miles south of Lake Charles.

FERC's formal acceptance of the permit application is an important step in moving the proposed project closer to a final investment decision, said Commonwealth LNG President and CEO Paul Varello in a statement.


Five-Year Extension Requested to Build Lake Charles LNG Export Terminal

A five-year extension to build the proposed Lake Charles LNG export terminal was submitted to federal regulators by Energy Transfer. As per the federal permit that was received in December 2015, the 240-acre liquefied natural gas export terminal project was supposed be operational by December 2020.

The LNG export terminal project got delayed and never got built due to complex international contract negotiations for the delay, Energy Transfer said in a letter. The company asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to extend that deadline until December 2025.

"The project sponsors are eager to continue to move forward with the project and receipt of the requested extension is a necessary step," Energy Transfer Chief Regulatory Officer Michael Langston wrote in the letter.

Energy Transfer is not expected to make a final investment decision on Lake Charles LNG until early 2020, Langston explained in his letter. The proposed export terminal is authorized to produce 16.45 million metric tons of LNG year.


Works on Mountain Valley Pipeline Suspended

Three days after a lawsuit that raised questions about the impact of Mountain Valley Pipeline on endangered species, developers of the pipeline have voluntarily suspended work on parts of the embattled project. It is not clear how much of the 303-mile natural gas pipeline will be affected.

“MVP’s voluntary suspension is not a matter of miles, it is a matter of doing the right thing,” spokeswoman Natalie Cox said in an email. “The voluntary suspension pertains to areas along the route that may potentially have an impact related to the Endangered Species Act; however, MVP expects to continue with construction, where permitted, in other areas along the route,” she said.

In a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the company said that it has already laid about 238 miles of pipe, and work suspension will have no “material impact” on the number of workers employed, nor does it push back an expected completion date of mid-2020.

The letter also says that the suspension covers “new activities” that could pose a threat to the lives of endangered bats and fish, or potentially destroy their habitat. Most work will be halted on a 75-mile stretch, along watersheds in the counties of Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin, and Pittsylvania. Works on another 20 miles that includes some streams and rivers in West Virginia are halted too.


FERC Approval Requested for Leidy South Project

Transco interstate pipeline, operated by Williams has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking authorization for its Leidy South project. The proposed project will connect robust supplies of natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica producing regions in Pennsylvania with markets along the Atlantic Seaboard.

“The Leidy South project will allow Williams to continue to grow our strategic footprint in the gas-rich Marcellus region, creating a unique opportunity to expand Transco by leveraging recent expansions on Williams’ Northeast Gathering & Processing assets in Pennsylvania,” said Micheal Dunn, chief operating officer of Williams.

The project will also expand Transco’s firm transportation capacity by 582400 dekatherms per day from the Leidy Hub and Zick interconnect to points downstream in Transco’s Zone 5 and Zone 6 market areas. The project is expected to cost $531 million and a target in-service of 1st December, 2021.

By maximizing the use of existing Transco pipeline infrastructure and rights of way in Pennsylvania, the project is designed to minimize environmental impacts which includes 6.3 miles of existing pipe replacement, 5.9 miles of new pipeline loop segments along the existing Transco pipeline corridor, and horsepower additions at two existing compressor facilities. Two new Greenfield compressor facilities in Pennsylvania is also planned for this project.


252 Mile Pipeline Proposed by Port Arthur LNG

Port Arthur LNG proposed the 252-mile Port Arthur Pipeline Louisiana Connector Extension Project that will include approximately a 48-inch diameter pipeline stretching from near Port Arthur, Texas, to Delhi, Louisiana, in Richland Parish.

According to Port Authur LNG, here will be two compressor stations, one in Richland Parish and another one in Allen Parish. The company held a meeting Wednesday night in south Louisiana for those who may be impacted by the proposed pipeline.

“We’re in the very early stages. All of these projects are regulated by the federal energy regulatory commission. Part of that process involves reaching out to the public, giving them the opportunity to come and learn about our project, to see if the project may or may not affect them, personally, directly," Jim Thompson, environmental project manager, said.

The process to even start construction on the project is still a few years out as Thompson said “We expect to file our application in February of 2020 and receive approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in early 2021. The pipeline, however, won’t start construction until 2022."

Once the construction starts, the company is estimating that it will only take six to nine months to complete the pipeline, pending Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approvals.


Kinder Morgan's Gulf LNG Project Gets Green Light from FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Kinder Morgan the approval to build its Gulf LNG export project in Mississippi in a 3-1 vote. The proposed project would add 11.5 million metric tons of new capacity to Kinder Morgan's terminal in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which would include two liquefaction plants.

Some Democrats opposed and concerned about LNG terminals' impacts on climate change, but FERC Chairman Neil Chaterjee praised the vote tweeting, "This is big news for the US & our allies. Today's approval of #GulfLNG is significant for the economy & America's geopolitical interests."

The company initially developed the Gulf LNG site as a liquefied natural gas import terminal in 2009. But with record production from U.S. shale plays creating a surplus of natural gas, the company filed an application with FERC in July 2015 seeking permission to redevelop part of the site as an export terminal.

The project will also modify the existing Gulf LNG Pipeline allow for bidirectional flow. It's the fifth LNG export project the agency has approved so far this year.


Mountain Valley Pipeline Timing Delayed, Raised Estimated Cost

Due to the ongoing legal and regulatory challenges, EQM Midstream Partners LP has raised the estimated cost of its Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline and also delayed the project completion time, Reuters reported.

The initial estimate when EQM started construction on Mountain Valley was about $3.5 billion and to be completed by the end of 2018. But those estimates were raised and now the estimated cost has been raised from $4.6 billion to $4.8 - $5 billion. Also the target to complete the project was delayed from the fourth quarter of 2019 to mid-2020.

The 303 mile Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline extends from West Virginia to Virginia and is designed to deliver 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. EQM commented that it had submitted a land exchange proposal to the federal government in an effort to enable the pipe to cross the Appalachian Trail.

The company’s land exchange proposal would grant the federal government full ownership of private lands crossed by the Appalachian Trail, including certain private land located adjacent to the Jefferson National Forest and in exchange, the government would grant Mountain Valley a right-of-way to cross the trail using the pipeline’s previously planned underground method at an existing crossing location approved by the FERC in 2017.


LNG Limited to Boost Production Capacity at Louisiana Export Terminal

LNG Limited, an Australian company has been seeking permission from federal regulators to boost the production at its proposed Magnolia LNG export terminal in Louisiana. The company has already been authorized to produce 8 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas per day, but has made a request to increase the capacity to 8.8 million metric tons per year.

"LNG Limited is committed to building the safest low-cost and most efficient LNG export facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast," LNG Limited Chief Executive Greg Vesey said in statement. "We thank FERC for their previous diligence on Magnolia and are ready for the continued engagement as the agency performs analysis on Magnolia's capacity increase best answered through the preparation of a supplemental EIS."

A notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement for the production capacity increase was issued by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on last Monday. The company is still waiting on its first supply contracts and a final investment decision on the Magnolia LNG project.


Aramco to Buy LNG from Sempra

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Aramco, under a 20 year agreement, will begin buying 5 million tons of liquid natural gas per year from San Diego based Sempra Energy. As part of the deal, Aramco also will make a 25% equity investment in an LNG export facility under development in Port Arthur, Texas.

"With global demand for LNG expected to grow by around 4% per year ... we see significant opportunities in this market and we will continue to pursue strategic partnerships which enable us to meet rising global demand for LNG," Amin Nasser, the company's CEO said in a news release.

"At Sempra Energy, we are developing one of the largest LNG export infrastructure portfolios in North America, with an eye towards connecting millions of consumers to cleaner, more reliable energy sources," said Jeff Martin, CEO of Sempra, in a statement. He added that partnering with Aramco will help develop the facility and enable the export of American natural gas to global markets.

Sempra Energy recently received authorization for the Port Arthur LNG facility from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct and operate the facility and related pipelines.


Enbridge Authorized to Place Cross-Border NatGas Pipeline into Service

Enbridge recently received an order from The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday for the permission to put the cross-border natural gas pipeline into service.

Enbridge has received permission to put the cross-border natural gas pipeline into service after the FERC provided an order on Thursday.

The 165-mile Valley Crossing pipeline begins near the Agua Dulce hub near Corpus Christi and ends under the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande. The pipeline is designed to move 2.6 bcfd of natural gas.

Texas-Tuxpan Pipeline, a project that will move natural gas from the border to the Mexican state of Veracruz is also nearing completion.

The Valley Crossing Pipeline has been mechanically complete since October and has been awaiting the Mexican pipeline’s completion, an Enbridge spokesman confirmed.

Once the Texas-Tuxpan Pipeline and The Valley Crossing Pipeline are in operation, they will deliver natural gas from Texas to power plants in Mexico's interior.


FERC Orders Complete Halt of Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction

U.S. energy regulators have halted all construction of the Mountain Valley pipeline (MVP) in a filing on Friday.

MVP is one of several pipelines currently being constructed to connect growing output in Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the U.S. and Canada.

FERC said in its decision on Friday that is not certain whether or not BLM or Forest Service will ultimately approve the same route for the MVP.

“Should the agencies authorize alternative routes, (Mountain Valley) may need to revise substantial portions of the project route across non-federal lands, possibly requiring further authorizations and environmental review,” FERC said in its filing.

An EQT spokeswoman responded on Saturday to the FERC order saying that the company “respectfully disagrees with the breadth of the August 3 stop work order.”

“We will continue to work closely with all agencies to resolve these issues and look forward to continuing the safe construction of this important infrastructure project,” the spokeswoman added.


Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction Expected to Start in September

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in Robeson County is expected to begin construction sometime in September; although, Dominion Energy has said that there is no specific date.

Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas are partners in the construction of a $5 billion, 600-mile pipeline that will move fracked natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina to a point close to Pembroke. The go-ahead to begin construction was given on Tuesday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

It is estimated that the pipeline’s builders will need 13,000 workers to construct the pipeline and have entered an agreement with four unions to recruit and train future workers. Job seekers can go to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline page to find more information on applying for jobs needed to help ACP partners build the pipeline.

County leaders have hailed the ACP for being beneficial to the economy when it becomes operational. It is expected to bring in about $900,000 in property tax revenue.

Critics have said that the pipeline is not only a local environmental threat, but also that demand for natural gas is not sufficient enough to warrant the construction. 

The Robesonian

FERC Regulators Say Oversight for Pipeline Cybersecurity Needs Improvement

Two top regulators of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission say the current agency in charge of overseeing cybersecurity for U.S. pipelines is unfit for the job and should pass the role to FERC.

Two commissioners wrote in an online article that the Transportation Security Administration cannot keep the U.S. pipeline network secure. They added that the TSA only has six full-time employees securing more than 2.7 million miles of pipeline and depends on voluntary cybersecurity standards.

The role should be given to FERC, which has a comprehensive understanding of the energy industry as well as sufficient resources to address any security threats, said the commissioners.

The article comes a few months after multiple cyber attacks forced the shutdown of several pipeline companies' third-party electronic communications systems.

None of the cyber attacks interrupted the supply of gas to homes and businesses, but it drew attention to the rising need for robust cybersecurity surrounding the country's pipeline systems.


FERC Allows Energy Transfer to Start Service on More Segments of its Rover NatGas Pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday allowed Energy Transfer Partners to start service on a couple more segments of its Rover natural gas pipeline in Ohio.

Service can now start on the Supply Connector in Ohio and parts of Mainline B, a 42-inch pipe that runs next to the 42-inch Mainline A pipe in Ohio.

FERC said it is still considering the pipeline company's request to start service on other segments of the line that run from Pennsylvania to Ohio and West Virginia to Ohio.

Energy Transfer said Wednesday that placing all the requested segments into service would unlock about 0.85 billion cubic feet per day of capacity that is not yet available to the market, which could help offset the nation's current storage deficit.

The Rover natural gas pipeline is the biggest gas pipeline project under construction in the U.S. and is designed to move 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields to the U.S. Midwest, Gulf Coast, and Canada.


FERC Begins Policy Review for Approval of NatGas Pipelines

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week launched an inquiry into whether its policies governing approval of interstate natural gas pipelines should be updated.

FERC's policies dealing with its oversight of pipelines have not been changed since 1999 and suffer significant opposition from critics who argue that the commission simply serves as a "rubber stamp" for the pipeline industry.

The decision to review comes as concern rises for the current policies for how FERC decides if a pipeline is needed and whether enough weight is given to the environmental impact of a new project.

FERC is also expected to seek input on policies related to eminent domain.

Energy Analyst Paul Patterson with Glen Rock Associates expects that changes, if any, to FERC's policies will take some time considering how many issues have been raised about the commission's review process.

State Impact Pennsylvania

FERC to Release Final Environmental Impact Statement on Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is expected to release a final environmental impact statement on EQT Midstream Partner's co-owned Mountain Valley Pipeline on Friday.

The document is one of the last steps in the regulatory process for FERC, which regulates interstate natural gas pipelines. Should most of the findings in the statement be positive, the release would be a significant step forward for the pipeline developers.

The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would span about 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, supplying natural gas from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

Assuming all regulatory approvals go as planned, EQT estimates the pipeline to be in service by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Houston Chronicle

FERC One Step Closer to Quorum Needed to Decide on Pending Pipeline Projects

The quorum for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has moved one step closer to restoration as two nominations for the commission move to the full Senate for final approval as of Tuesday.

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 20-3 to refer the nominations of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson as members of FERC to the full Senate for final approval. This move brings the commission one step closer to becoming fully functional again and able to make important decisions on needed infrastructure projects in the country.

With FERC out of power to make decisions on infrastructure, such as major pipeline projects, due to its lack of a quorum, oil and gas officials say that billions of dollars in private capital have been on hold as companies and investors wait to deploy it on energy infrastructure projects.

"The president and many members of Congress have stressed the economic importance of developing infrastructure across America. Natural gas pipelines are a form of infrastructure built with private capital rather than government funds. To build this infrastructure, we need a functioning FERC to act on pending applications to construct interstate gas pipelines," said Donald Santa, President of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

Several major pipeline projects are stalled and wait approval by FERC, such as the Nexus pipeline, the Penn East Pipeline, the Mountaineer XPress, the Mountain Valley pipeline, and the Atlantic Coast pipeline.

Oil & Gas Journal

At Least $50 Billion Worth of Energy Projects on Hold Until Trump Fills FERC Spots

At least $50 billion worth of U.S. energy projects, including several major pipelines, are on hold or have slowed in process as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) awaits presidential appointments.

FERC currently does not have enough commissioners for a quorum to vote on project applications, and President Trump must fill those key vacancies before major projects like the Nexus, PennEast, Mountain Valley, and Mountaineer Express pipelines can be approved.

"The leadership vacuum at FERC is holding up shovel-ready, privately funded infrastructure spending. We need those positions filled yesterday," said Ethan Bellamy, managing director at Robert W. Baird & Co.

One of FERC's remaining members, Cheryl LaFleur, said in an interview that FERC "is building up quite a backlog" with holds on infrastructure and merger cases as well as on a number of rule-makings and inquiries.

Nominees for the vacant spots are expected in the coming weeks, but formal nomination is just the beginning of what could be a months-long process. Nominees must be approved by the Senate but only after they are approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.