Williams Partners LP has received federal authorization to move forward with its Atlantic Sunrise project.
The company reported Feb. 3 that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project. Atlantic Sunrise is an expansion of the existing Transco natural gas pipeline. The project will connect abundant Marcellus shale gas supplies with markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast United States.
“While we are still reviewing details of the certificate order, we are pleased FERC has approved this much-needed energy infrastructure project, which will leverage existing infrastructure to help millions of Americans gain access to affordable Pennsylvania-produced natural gas,” said Rory Miller, senior vice president of Williams Partners’ Atlantic-Gulf operating area. “Today, Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. Projects like Atlantic Sunrise will help the state maximize the tremendous economic benefits that this local resource holds.”
Following the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, Williams Partners anticipates beginning construction on the mainline portion of the project facilities in mid-2017. These mainline facilities will create a much-needed path from the northern part of the Transco system to markets along the eastern seaboard for a portion of the project capacity in time for the 2017-2018 heating season. Construction on the Central Penn Line, the greenfield portion of the project, is targeted to begin early in the third quarter this year, allowing the full project capacity to be placed into service in mid-2018.
“Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project is a nearly $3 billion investment that will encourage continued production of natural gas in the shale regions and investment in manufacturing throughout Pennsylvania,” said Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “Infrastructure like this is needed to strengthen our energy portfolio, which also includes coal, nuclear and renewables. This project is among the largest private investments of capital ever made in this state and will support thousands of family-sustaining jobs during construction, many of them in blue-collar trade and manufacturing sectors, and hundreds of long-term jobs once operational.”
Pennsylvania State University researchers forecast the Atlantic Sunrise project to directly and indirectly support approximately 8,000 jobs in the 10 Pennsylvania counties during the project’s construction phase, resulting in an estimated $1.6 billion economic impact in the project area.
Following a comprehensive, nearly three-year review, the FERC order concludes that the Atlantic Sunrise project will serve the public interest. On Dec. 30, 2016, the commission published its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the proposed project, concluding that environmental impacts would be reduced to “less than significant levels” with the implementation of mitigation measures proposed by the company and FERC.
The Atlantic Sunrise expansion project consists of approximately 200 miles of pipe, including about 185 miles of new natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, 11 miles of pipeline looping in Pennsylvania, 2.5 miles of pipeline replacements in Virginia and associated equipment and facilities. The project’s proposed aboveground facilities include two new compressor stations in Pennsylvania, additional compression and related modifications to three existing compressor stations in Pennsylvania and Maryland; two new meter stations and three new regulator stations in Pennsylvania; and minor modifications at existing aboveground facilities at various locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina to allow for bi-directional flow.
Once complete, the Atlantic Sunrise expansion will help alleviate infrastructure bottlenecks in Pennsylvania. The expansion project is designed to increase deliveries by 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), which would service an estimated 7 million homes. Williams Partners’ net investment in the Atlantic Sunrise project is expected to be approximately $1.9 billion.