Equitrans confirms early 2021 startup for Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline

(Reuters) - U.S. pipeline company Equitrans Midstream Corp ETRN.N said on Tuesday it still expects to complete the $5.4 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia in early 2021.

Mountain Valley is one of several U.S. oil and gas pipelines delayed by regulatory and legal fights with environmental and local groups that found problems with federal permits issued by the Trump administration.

Other projects similarly held up include TC Energy Corp's TRP.TO $8 billion Keystone XL crude pipeline and Energy Transfer LP's ET.N Dakota Access crude pipeline, which are still involved in court battles.

Equitrans said in its second-quarter earnings statement that the project’s costs could rise by 5% to around $5.7 billion if it needs “to adapt the construction plan for potential complex judicial decisions and regulatory changes.”

When Equitrans started construction in February 2018, it estimated Mountain Valley would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018. But successful legal challenges to federal permits resulted in lengthy delays and higher costs for Mountain Valley.

Equitrans said it expects to receive new approvals soon from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will enable it to finish building the last 8% of the project.

The 303-mile (488-km) pipeline is designed to deliver 2 billion cubic feet per day from the Marcellus and Utica shale in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to consumers in the Mid Atlantic and Southeast.

Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy Inc NEE.N, Consolidated Edison Inc ED.N, AltaGas Ltd ALA.TO and RGC Resources Inc RGCO.O.

Reporting By Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky