The Dominion Southeast Reliability Project is a 450-mile-long natural gas transmission pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia to southern North Carolina that is currently being discussed by Dominion Resources Inc.
The new pipeline, costing around $2 billion to build, would extend from the natural-gas rich Marcellus and Utica shale production regions in the Appalachians to markets in Virginia and North Carolina.
“We think there’s interest in getting natural gas from the Appalachian Basin into Virginia and North Carolina,” Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle said on Tuesday.
The proposed route of the pipeline runs from Highland County in western Virginia, in a southeasterly direction through Nelson, Buckingham, Dinwiddie and Brunswick counties and then southward toward North Carolina.
The proposal features a 70-mile spur line in Greensville County to Hampton Roads, and a short connection to the 1,358-megawatt, natural-gas fueled Brunswick Power Station near Lawrenceville in Brunswick County. In North Carolina, spurs would run to the Raleigh and Fayetteville areas.
The company has started notifying landowners and surveying the land to find the best route for the pipeline, although the project itself is still far from certain. According to Jim Norvelle the project is in the “extremely preliminary” stage, warning the landowners that “just because we’re surveying doesn’t mean your property has been selected for the route.”
If the pipeline does get built, its completion is predicted for the end of 2018.
U.S. pipeline companies seeking to construct natural gas pipeline facilities must obtain approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The FERC requires the open-season process to ensure that interested parties are made aware of new pipeline projects and to determine if there is sufficient customer interest to pursue projects. Dominion Transmission issued what’s termed a non-binding open-season notice for the project April 16.
Dominion Resources owns an extensive natural gas processing and pipeline system in the gas-rich Marcellus shale region underlying the Appalachian basin, which enables it to take advantage of the region’s natural gas opportunities.
The company pointed out that last year’s unusually cold winter demonstrated the need for southeastern gas infrastructure, with the proposed pipeline project giving customers access to additional supply basins.
Opponents of the pipeline, however, raise concerns about the environmental impact of the project.
“This cannot happen without long-term damage to the ecologic and hydrologic integrity of the Allegheny Highlands, among the best and least altered natural landscapes in the eastern U.S.,” said Rick Webb, a senior scientist with the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Science, “and it will add to the factors that are driving environmentally irresponsible gas drilling practices.”
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