West Virginia officials hail economic potential of pipeline project as completion date nears


CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) — With the Mountain Valley Pipeline inching ever closer to its expected completion date at the end of the month, stakeholders and proponents of the project are breathing a sigh of relief.

Since the 303-mile pipeline project was initially announced in 2014, West Virginia officials and business leaders have been celebrating its potential to create jobs, increase tax collections and serve as a conduit for moving the state’s abundant stores of natural gas to market.

After years of stops and starts caused by protests and lawsuits — which have ballooned the project’s price tag to more than $7.5 billion — it took a literal act of Congress to ensure the pipeline’s completion.

“I worked hard to make sure we could get to the completion of this because of the impact it has on our state in terms of jobs, but also providing affordable energy and also moving it through the eastern part of the United States,” said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., during a recent press conference.​

Capito and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., helped assure that mandates for the project’s completion were included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.

While officials with project developer Equitrans Midstream have said they expect “to complete construction and final commissioning of the pipeline on or about May 31, 2024,” putting the pipeline into service will require final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We’re still waiting for approval,” Capito said. “It has almost doubled — if not doubled — in price because of the delays. So my hope is that the final completion and ribbon cutting will occur sooner than later.”

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said having the project nearly complete is “welcome news” for the state’s business community.

“This is real opportunity for West Virginia broadly and some West Virginians specifically,” Roberts said.

“It should be obvious by now that the production of natural gas is a major component of our economy,” he said.

The state’s coal production has declined in recent years, but the oil and gas industry has helped the state remain one of the top energy producers in the nation, Roberts said.

“But we don’t have end users in West Virginia for all of the energy that we can produce,” he said. “And the Mountain Valley Pipeline will create an opportunity to sell more gas, reap more tax benefits and create economic opportunity for more people in West Virginia.”

The MVP’s arduous road to completion could give other developers a “renewed sense of caution” when looking to tackle similar projects, Roberts said.

“I think we have to be realistic and know that the marketplace has observed the challenges that building this pipeline has received,” he said. “Those who are thinking and making investments of this type will be looking and weighing carefully the opportunities to proceed.”

As of April 28, all 303 miles of the pipeline had been installed, and all waterway and wetland crossing work had been completed, according to information presented in a recent financial report from the company.

The commissioning of two of the project’s three compressor stations had been completed, as had restoration of a “substantial portion of the pipeline right of way, with the majority of remaining pipeline restoration to occur following MVP in-service.”

The remaining construction includes “tying in of a completed bore, the installation of pipe on a steep slope, and the tying together of the final pipeline segments after completing testing and commissioning activities.”

The pipeline’s route through West Virginia includes Braxton, Doddridge, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Lewis, Monroe, Nicholas, Summers, Webster and Wetzel counties.