Last year Cabot announced it had secured capacity and an equity position in a new pipeline project, the Atlantic Sunrise. This pipeline is tremendously important to Cabot and its industry counterparts Southwester Energy, Chief Oil & Gas, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Seneca Resources since takeaway capacity in existing pipelines is maxed across the region. Put simply, there is no more room in the pipelines to move additional natural gas from Northeast Pennsylvania. The Atlantic Sunrise project will provide this much needed capacity and it will establish new pathways to move natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania south.
The project will consist of installing 178 miles of new pipeline, a few new compressor stations (two in Pennsylvania and additional facilities in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina) and the replacement of existing pipelines.
With the creation of this pipeline, new pathways will open up, connecting new markets and customers as far away as Georgia to affordable and abundant supplies of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. This added supply will also insulate consumers from the supply shortages and price spikes many witnessed during the extreme cold weather throughout the winter. The video below is an overview of the project by Williams.
Aside from the conceptualization that the pipeline will run north to south, many in the region are looking for specific details about the project. So, to help educate the public about the newly proposed project, Williams held an open house at Mt. View middle School on June 2nd, 2014.
The event brought Williams’ representatives from all over the company’s operating territory together to disseminate information about the projects proposed routes, the methodology for installing the pipeline and information about Williams robust safety program once the pipeline is in service.
Here is a sample of questions asked during the information session:
Before any new pipeline facilities can be constructed, Williams must first obtain a federal Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The FERC pre-filing process is intended to solicit early input from citizens, governmental entities and other interested parties to identify and address issues with potential facility locations. The company intends to host a series of public open houses in the late spring of 2014 in the affected areas to formally introduce the proposal to the public and solicit feedback. Public input is important to the project and can shape the final project footprint.
- Spring 2014 – Field surveys begin
- Spring 2014 – FERC pre-filing process begins
- Late spring 2014 – Open houses and informational meetings
- Early 2015 – Submit 7(c) application to FERC
- Summer 2016 — Anticipated construction start
- Second half of 2017 – Target in-service
Selecting Facility Locations
The pipeline company must evaluate a number of environmental factors, including potential impacts on residents, threatened and endangered species, wetlands, water bodies, groundwater, fish, vegetation, wildlife, cultural resources, geology, soils, land use, air and noise quality.
Pipeline companies are strongly encouraged by regulators to consider routes along existing corridors, such as pipeline rights of way, roadways, utility corridors, railroad corridors and other easements. After analyzing maps, aerial photos, environmental reports and other available data, pipeline engineers establish a preliminary route or location for the new facilities, as well as location alternatives.