Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 24, 2011

258-mile pipeline in Pa., W.Va. proposed

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A Texas company is maneuvering to construct a pipeline to carry Marcellus Shale natural gas across Pennsylvania.

The Atlantic Access Project, a proposed 258-mile pipeline using 36-inch pipe, would move fuel from the rich Marcellus gas fields of western Pennsylvania and the panhandle of West Virginia to eastern gas-hungry markets.

“We are early — early in this process,” Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for Houston-based Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co., said last week.

The company filed a pre-application, amounting to a request for a review of project plans, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“It's a big project,” Stockton said. “It will require a lot of input from a lot of people, agencies and organizations.”

The project could cost $1 billion, according to information from U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster. He is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

Stockton said the company, commonly referred to as Transco, is owned by The Williams Co. Inc. and there is not a final figure on the project’s estimated cost.

“It will easily be in excess of $1 billion,” he said.

When the pipeline is completed, it would carry 1,350,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day, or enough energy to provide winter heat for 1,350,000 homes for one day, according to calculations by Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

Documents recently filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission show the pipeline would be linked to an existing Transco pipeline in South Carolina, an existing receipt point in Rivervale, N.J., and to a Transco station in York, Pa.

The pre-filing launches the federal review process and will be followed by extensive environmental studies, public meetings and comment periods, FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said.

“They’re just giving us a heads up,” she said. “After they start the final approval process, they may come in with an application and they may not.”

The pre-application spells out Transco’s plans to construct two compressor stations in Pennsylvania — a 48,000-horsepower facility in Fayette County and a 32,000-horsepower facility in Fulton County.

A dozen meters or regulator stations are planned along the route.

David Cubbison, director of Bedford County Emergency Management, said the impact for landowners would be minimized if Transco follows its proposed corridor.

Plans call for about 80 percent of the pipeline to be constructed within or adjacent to existing utility rights of way, according to the application.

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