August 4, 2008

Dominion Plans New Gas Pipeline

By Susan Williams

Officials with Dominion Transmission are planning a new billion- dollar pipeline project to channel natural gas through West Virginia to Pennsylvania and other Eastern markets.

A spokesman for the company said Friday that the pipeline will connect some existing lines and add new ones, in an effort to meet the increasing demands for natural gas.

Dominion spokesman Bob Fulton could not say exactly where the line would go. Earlier this year, he said, Dominion asked potential partners if they would be interested in joining a pipeline project and "the response was overwhelming. We got more response than we have capacity for right now."

He "anticipates that the Northern Panhandle would be involved" as the gas is delivered to Pennsylvania. All of this "will depend on where the intersections lie for our customers." Many of these customers want to supply Eastern markets, he said.

Dominion Transmission is a part of Dominion Energy, based in Richmond, Va.

Fulton said company officials are still analyzing the responses, but they are calling the new venture the Appalachian Gateway project.

"We're only in the preliminary stages," he said. "We might not build just one continuous line. We might enhance what we already have in place and tie it into other projects in Pennsylvania."

He also said they anticipate delving into the Marcellus Shale formation, a formation that lies under almost all of West Virginia and parts of some other states. Although scientists have known about this rich deposit for years, the ability to extract resources from it has only recently been developed, Fulton said.

According to, the organic rich carbonaceous shale could contain more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

If they drill into the Marcellus Shale formation, Fulton said, Dominion would have to get leases from some private landowners.

Fulton said the assets in the pipeline "could approach $1 billion."

Once the company knows which customers have signed on and has made more specific plans, they must seek permission for the pipeline from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In July 2002, Dominion filed for an application with FERC to construct and operate 279 miles of new pipeline, two compressor stations and related facilities in a project called the Greenbrier Pipeline.

Less than a year later, federal officials authorized the project, but the company ultimately abandoned it.

Fulton said the new Appalachian Gateway Project is a completely different plan.

Many residents in the path of the Greenbrier project objected. If it had been built, workers would have cut everything in the way of the 30-inch pipeline over more than 200 miles, including scenic areas like Hawks Nest State Park. Others worried about losing their property to the line.

Dominion abandoned the project because of changes in the economy and energy market after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But Fulton said the rising price of a barrel of oil makes the Appalachian Gateway project more attractive.

Reach Susan Williams at susan [email protected] or 348- 5112.

Originally published by Staff writer.

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