(Reuters) - U.S. federal energy regulators on Wednesday approved a request by TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) Columbia Gas Transmission unit to put the eastern facilities of its $900 million WB XPress natural gas pipeline into service in West Virginia and 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 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 30.4 bcfd in December from 26.9 bcfd during the same month a year earlier.
That represents about 37 percent of the nation’s total dry gas output of 83.2 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.
Separately, TransCanada has said it plans to complete its $3 billion Mountaineer and $600 million Gulf XPress projects by the end of the year.
Mountaineer is designed to increase gas capacity in West Virginia by 2-bcfd.
Gulf XPress is designed to move 0.88 bcfd of gas from Appalachia to the U.S. South.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by James Dalgleish