U.S. federal energy regulators on Thursday approved a request by TransCanada Corp's Columbia Gas Transmission unit to put part of its WB XPress natural gas pipeline project into service in West Virginia.
WB XPress is one of several pipelines designed to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada.
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in a filing approving the startup of the $900 million project that Columbia has "adequately stabilized the areas disturbed by construction and that restoration is proceeding satisfactorily."
The 1.3-billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) WB XPress project was designed to increase gas capacity in Virginia and West Virginia. The project includes construction of 2.9 miles (4.7 km) of new pipeline, two compressor stations and replacement of 26 miles of existing pipeline.
One billion cubic feet is enough gas to power about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
New pipelines built to remove gas from the Marcellus and Utica basins have enabled shale drillers to boost output in the Appalachia region to a forecast record high of around 29.4 bcfd in October 2018 from 24.2 bcfd during the same month a year earlier.
That represents about 36 percent of the nation's total dry gas output of 81.1 bcfd expected on average in 2018. A decade ago, the Appalachia region produced just 1.6 bcfd, or 3 percent of the country's total production in 2008.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)