Nicholas Newman Eniday April 2016
Building a pipeline is not just about drawing a line on the map, and then sending a team to build an oil or gas pipeline. In fact, it is a lot more complicated than that, this is certainly the case, as Dominion Energy found out in designing the proposed route of the 564 mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This natural gas pipeline crosses the Eastern American states of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, linking the Marcellus shale gas fields to the west of the Appalachian Mountains with Atlantic Coast cities such as Washington DC. Not only did they have to think about meeting the needs for cleaner electricity generation, but satisfy the growing demand for natural gas to heat homes and businesses, and promote consumer savings and economic growth. In addition, they had to minimize impacts of the proposed route on several environmental, historic and public land issues, through a series of investigative consultations and surveys, with all the relevant community group and public agencies at local, state and national level.
Planning and building an oil or gas pipeline involves much more than drawing a line on the map and sending teams out to build it. It is a lot more complicated than that, as Virginia-based energy company Dominion Resources, discovered when planning the route for its proposed 564 mile (908 km) Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It found that it not only needed to gain regulatory and planning approval from various levels of Federal, State and county government but also to win over political and public opinion and overcome a complex array of market, environmental and geological issues.
Originally proposed in 2014, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was a planned 3.5-ft (1.1-m), high-pressure pipe, with a capacity to ship 1.5 billion cubic feet a day of Marcellus and Utica shale gas to its 20 million customers living in the Eastern American states of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. More specifically, the pipeline would start in Harrison County in the state of West Virginia, cross the Appalachian Mountains and supply gas power plants serving Atlantic Coast cities such as Charlotte in North Carolina, Richmond in Virginia and Washington D.C. Gas power-plant operators, some whom are also investors in the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, have already signed power purchase agreements with Dominion Resources for most of the pipeline’s capacity, thereby assuring the pipeline’s commercial viability, reports newswire Marcellus.com in March 2016.