October 3, 2018 / 5:28 PM / 13 days ago

EQT does not expect U.S. court order to hold up Mountain Valley natgas pipe

(Reuters) - EQT Corp said Wednesday it still expects to finish the $4.6 billion Mountain Valley pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia in the fourth quarter of 2019 despite a recent decision by a federal court to vacate a federal permit for the project.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with environmental groups in a dispute about a permit that allowed the company to cross rivers in West Virginia.

Specifically, the court vacated the Clean Water Act Section 404 stream and wetland crossing permit, called the Nationwide 12 permit, issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

EQT said the decision affects steam and wetland crossings along about 160 miles of the pipeline route in West Virginia.

EQT said in an email it was “evaluating options to understand its ability to continue with construction activities that do not include stream and wetland crossings along this portion of the route.”

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

Due in part to those earlier court decisions, EQT in September delayed the projected in-service date to the fourth quarter of 2019 and boosted the estimated cost of the project to $4.6 billion.

When it started construction of Mountain Valley in February, EQT estimated the project would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018.

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.

The 303-mile (488-kilometer) pipeline is designed to deliver 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas to meet growing demand for the fuel for power generation and other uses in the U.S. Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

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.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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