Having canceled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC project, Dominion Energy Inc. is working with regulators to deal with the remains of the project and an associated pipeline system, but the company is facing environmental challengers along the way.
Dominion has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to extend the deadline for construction for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by one year to complete abandonment and restoration, and to extend the deadline by two years for the related Supply Header Pipeline while it considers that project's future.
The 37.5-mile, 1.5-million Dth/d Supply Header Pipeline was originally intended to ship gas from supply areas in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to North Carolina, with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as the main shipper. The project involved 30-inch-diameter pipeline segments in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, along with compressor station and facility upgrades.
But Dominion and Duke Energy Corp. July 5 announced they were canceling the 604-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d Atlantic Coast Pipeline project amid continued hurdles and uncertainties related to litigation from environmental groups. Dominion also plans to sell substantially all of its gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy in a nearly $10 billion deal, it announced the same day.
Given the construction already completed on the Supply Header Pipeline and its location relative to Dominion Energy Transmission Inc.'s existing network, Dominion is evaluating options to use "some or all" of the Supply Header Pipeline, Dominion said in a request to FERC. The company noted that 31% of the Supply Header Pipeline main line was installed, and significant work has also occurred at three of four existing compressor stations.
While Dominion has not specified options it is considering, in prior filings it had floated the possibility of the Supply Header Pipeline having independent utility. Even without the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, it told FERC in August of 2018 that the Supply Header Pipeline could receive incremental gas on Dominion Energy Transmission's existing system, allowing incremental supplies to move to and from Dominion South Point and bolstering injection and withdrawal capabilities for underground storage fields.
Dominion Energy Transmission will become a Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary later this year but will be working on evaluating potential uses of the Supply Header Pipeline project ahead of the final switchover, Dominion spokeswoman Ann Nallo said. "[A]ny future project would be conducted subject to all applicable stakeholder and permit processes," she said in an email.
Southern Environmental Law Center, one of the lead litigants against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, has objected to a two-year extension for the Supply Header Pipeline, arguing a lack of evidence that FERC's needs determination and environmental analysis for the project "have not gone stale."
It noted that Dominion Energy Transmission's application for the Supply Header Pipeline explained that the Supply Header Pipeline executed a single, binding precedent agreement, with Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
"The commission has never, to conservation intervenors' knowledge, granted an extension request while a project applicant evaluates whether or not to actually complete or use the proposed project," Southern Environmental Law Center wrote in a July 17 filing.
The group further argued that moving ahead only with Supply Header Pipeline would require new proceedings and a new authorization from FERC.
As for Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Southern Environmental Law Center sought more opportunity for public input on issues such as restoration and eminent domain before FERC grants an extension. In order to provide clarification for landowners and others, the group said any extension should limit Atlantic Coast Pipeline's authority under the certificate order, and public comment is needed to identify what conditions are appropriate.
Among such conditions, it sought to limit activities to those needed for restoration and abandonment, and to remove Atlantic Coast Pipeline's eminent domain authority over the pipeline right-of-way.
It argued FERC must allow a public comment period of at least 30 days and then require Atlantic Coast Pipeline to submit a restoration plan, because details were lacking, and then allow further public comment.
Maya Weber is a reporter with S&P Global Platts. S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global Platts are owned by S&P Global Inc.