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Mountain Valley seeks U.S. OK to restart work on WV-VA natgas pipe

·2 min read

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC asked federal regulators for permission to resume construction on the $5.4-$5.7 billion pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia by Sept. 25.

Mountain Valley said that would allow it to complete as many activities as possible before winter, according to a filing with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) late on Tuesday.

FERC suspended work on Mountain Valley in October 2019 due to litigation over the project's Biological Opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which allows the project to work in areas inhabited by endangered and threatened species.

The FWS issued a new Biological Opinion in early September.

Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners said on Wednesday they expect FERC will allow Mountain Valley to resume construction even though some environmental groups and others will oppose the return to work and the new Biological Opinion.

U.S. pipeline company Equitrans Midstream Corp, one of the partners in Mountain Valley, said in early September it expects the pipeline to enter service in early 2021.

Mountain Valley is one of several U.S. oil and gas pipelines delayed by regulatory and legal fights with environmental and local groups that found problems with federal permits issued by the Trump administration.

In February 2018, when Equitrans started construction of the 303-mile (488-km) pipeline designed to deliver 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale, it estimated Mountain Valley would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018.

Equitrans has said it expects to receive new approvals soon from FERC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will enable it to finish building the last 8% of the project.

Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy Inc, Consolidated Edison Inc, AltaGas Ltd and RGC Resources Inc.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Tom Brown)