National Fuel announced its anticipated in-service date of its proposed Northern Access Pipeline Project, which would transfer gas from Pennsylvania into Canada, has been delayed from November of this year to sometime by the end of March 2018.
In a press release last week, the company stated the project's in-service date was moved due to "Ongoing delays in the regulatory approval process," including the issuance of the project's certificate by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
It further stated the delays have hindered certain development activities along portions of the 99-mile pipeline route.
When asked about the delay, a representative from FERC stated Commissioner Norman C. Bay is expected to leave his position by the end of this week.
In an email last week, FERC's Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur stated, "The commission is working to get as many orders out as possible, to maximize the time we have with Norman Bay here. I am confident that, with the strong team that we have here at the commission, we can continue to do our work. The commission is also evaluating how best to do the work of the Commission going forward as much as possible after Commissioner Bay's departure. I expect there will be more to communicate on this in the coming weeks."
Based on FERC's delay, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has extended the NYSDEC's deadline for a decision with respect to various permits for the project from March 1, 2017, to April 7, 2017, according to National Fuel's release.
Last week, NYSDEC published the Notice of Complete Application for the permits, and is expected to move forward with the permitting process.
In the release, Ronald J. Tanski, president and CEO of National Fuel Gas Co. stated, "We continue to make progress working through the various federal, state, and local regulatory processes. Progress is slower than we had originally anticipated, as a number of energy projects in the northeast U.S. have faced similar permitting delays. We are encouraged that the NYSDEC has reviewed the voluminous material that we have submitted at their request and determined our permit applications to be complete. We stand ready to invest close to half a billion dollars in this infrastructure project that will increase the tax base of our local communities and school districts and bolster our pipeline system's access to plentiful supplies of domestic natural gas."
National Fuel's North Access Pipeline Project includes the construction of a natural gas dehydration facility on Liberty Drive. The dehydration facility would be used to burn off excess water vapor in the gas to meet Canada's lower moisture regulations. On numerous occasions, residents have expressed concerns about potential hazardous emissions being released into the atmosphere as a result of this process. However, in July, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an environmental assessment of the Northern Access Pipeline Project, which stated it would not cause a significant environmental impact.