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Construction stopped on Mountain Valley pipeline

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World Pipelines,

US energy regulators have told EQT Corp and other companies building the US$3.5 - 3.7 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia to stop all construction, according to Reuters.

The action by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in a filing on Friday, followed a 27 July order from the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that vacated decisions by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service authorising construction of Mountain Valley across federal lands.

That court decision was the most recent appeals court victory by the Sierra Club and other opponents of the pipeline.

Mountain Valley is one of several pipelines under construction to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada.

Reuters reports that FERC said in its decision Friday that it cannot predict when the BLM or Forest Service may act or whether the agencies will ultimately approve the same route for Mountain Valley.

“Should the agencies authorise 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.

In response to the FERC order, EQT spokeswoman Natalie Cox said in an email on Saturday the company “respectfully disagrees with the breadth of the 3 August 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,” Cox said.

Before the FERC decision, EQT delayed its target date to finish the pipeline to the first quarter of 2019 from late 2018.

The 303 mile (488 km) pipeline is designed to deliver 2 billion ft3/d of gas to meet growing demand for the fuel for power generation and other uses in the US Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Mountain Valley is owned by units of EQT, NextEra Energy Inc, Consolidated Edison Inc, AlatGas Ltd and RGC Resources Inc. EQT Midstream Partners LP will operate the pipeline and owns a significant interest in the venture.

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