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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Approves Leach XPress Pipeline

Casey Junkins | January 20, 2017 | The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING — TransCanada, the same company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, hopes to move 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through Marshall and Monroe counties by the end of this year via the 36-inch diameter Leach XPress pipeline.

On Thursday, officials with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the $1.4 billion project designed to ship dry methane natural gas from a Majorsville compressor station in Marshall County to a compressor station in Ceredo, W.Va., near Huntington.

FERC also approved the Rayne XPress project, which primarily consists of two new compressor stations along TransCanada’s existing Columbia Gulf system, which the company believe will facilitate transportation of Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas.

Columbia Pipeline Group originated the projects, but Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada acquired the assets as part of a $13 billion deal last year.

“Approval of Leach XPress and Rayne XPress follows a very thorough review by the FERC,” Stan Chapman, TransCanada senior vice president and general manager, said. “These projects will create critically needed connectivity between the prolific, but constrained, Marcellus and Utica shale production areas and higher value markets. The projects will also create significant new jobs and tax revenues for communities along the projects’ routes.”

For the last couple of years, Marcellus and Utica shale producers have struggled because they did not have adequate infrastructure for moving natural gas to larger markets. The Leach XPress is one of several interstate pipeline projects before FERC that would help alleviate such problems. The others in various stages of the approval process include the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Nexus Pipeline, the Rover Pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Mountaineer XPress and the Atlantic Sunrise.

According to the pipeline map, the main line would originate at the MarkWest Energy processing plant at Majorsville, traveling southwest through Marshall County to the Ohio River. After passing under the river, the line will pass through northern Monroe County on its path toward Lancaster, Ohio.

Near Lancaster, the line will turn south to cut down the center of the Buckeye State. It would cross the Ohio River again near Ironton before reaching its Ceredo, W.Va. destination.

TransCanada hopes to have the line operational before the end of the year, while company officials estimate construction will generate about 5,700 jobs and approximately $2.3 billion in economic activity.

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