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Mountain Valley Pipeline completion again delayed

West Virginia Public Broadcasting
A May 9 pressure test ruptured a portion of The Mountain Valley Pipeline in Bent Mountain.

Read the original story at West Virginia Public.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline won’t be ready to begin operations this week, the project’s builder told federal regulators.

Equitrans Midstream previously asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve its application to begin service for Thursday.

In a Tuesday letter to FERC, the company said it expects the pipeline to be ready to operate in early June.

Equitrans said it has to complete fewer than 10 welds and pressure test them with water. It said hydrostatic testing had been completed on 99% of the pipeline.

“Due to the extended construction duration to achieve weld-out, which has been associated with weather and environmental protection, Mountain Valley is adjusting its targeted in-service date to early June,” the company wrote.

Equitrans said it was not “premature,” as some critics said, seeking approval for the pipeline.

The project has drawn opposition since its beginning in 2018. The May 1 failure of a water-pressure test at Bent Mountain amplified the concerns of those living nearby.

State and federal regulators have been muted on how closely they’ve been looking at the rupture, which released an unknown volume of water and sediment onto adjacent land.

The company is under a consent agreement with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to correct any safety flaws in its work.

Construction on the 303-mile, 42-inch natural gas line underwent pauses as opponents challenged the project in federal court. A spending agreement approved by the U.S. Congress last summer granted all remaining permits the pipeline needed.

Bent Mountain residents have said the section of pipe that failed, near the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, was installed six years ago.

It is undergoing a metallurgical analysis, but regulators have not said whether they will publicly disclose the results of that examination.

The latest cost estimate to complete the MVP is nearly $8 billion, more than twice the original projection. The legal challenges, as well as the increased construction and materials costs have driven up the price tag.

When finished, the pipeline will move as much as 2 billion cubic feet a day of gas from north central West Virginia to Virginia. The company is planning an eventual extension into North Carolina to supply utility customers.

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