Williams wants regulators to extend time to build Constitution pipeline

The Constitution pipeline will run from Pennsylvania to New York. (Reuters pic)

TULSA: Williams Cos Inc on Monday asked US energy regulators for an extension to complete the long-delayed Constitution pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York until December 2020.

Williams said in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it needs the extension because environmental regulators in New York denied the company’s request for a water quality certification or permit.

Williams has challenged that denial and is waiting for FERC to rule on its latest appeal.

FERC approved the construction of Constitution in December 2014 and gave the company until December 2016 to complete the project. After Williams’ appeals of the New York water permit denial, FERC granted the company’s request to extend the project completion until December 2018.

But with the water permit fight ongoing, Williams said it could not finish the project by then.

In a separate filing, Williams asked FERC for expedited action on the company’s request for a rehearing of the water permit issue.

Williams argued that New York waived its authority under the Clean Water Act to decide on the water quality certification by failing to act within a reasonable period of time.

Williams filed for the water permit with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in August 2013. The company withdrew and resubmitted that application twice, both times at the DEC’s request.

In April 2016, the DEC denied Williams application, saying the company failed to provide sufficient information to determine whether the project would comply with the state’s water quality standards.

Williams appealed that in federal court all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to review the judgment of the appeals court. The appeals court concluded it lacked jurisdiction and upheld the state’s decision.

If built, the 201-kilometre pipeline would transport 18.4 million cubic metres per day of shale gas. New York uses, on average, about 102 million cubic metres of gas.

When Williams proposed building Constitution in 2013, it estimated it would cost about US$683 million (RM2.749 billion) and enter service in 2016. Delays, however, have boosted that estimate to as high as US$875 million (RM3.522 billion), according to upstate New York newspapers.

Williams said it would take about 10 to 12 months to build the pipeline after it receives the necessary approvals.

Constitution is owned by subsidiaries of Williams, Cabot Oil & Gas, Duke Energy, and WGL Holdings.