Dominion Resources Visits Pocahontas County


Dominion Resources, Inc. hopes to build an estimated $4 billion pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation to Virginia and North Carolina. The proposed Southeast Reliability Project would start in Harrison County and travel through Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, and Pocahontas Counties in West Virginia.

On August 19th, Dominion Representative Robert Orndorff spoke at the Pocahontas County Commission Meeting, briefing commissioners on the current details of the project. He said Dominion has sent survey notifications to Pocahontas County landowners within a 400-foot study corridor. The pipeline could cross 12 miles in the county, covering 29 tracts of land, with the Monongahela National Forest being the largest tract holder.

“With the increased development of the Marcellus and Utica, there’s an overabundance of natural gas in North Central West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania,” Orndorff said. “Natural gas right now is the target of a lot of opportunity to generate electricity.”

  • The proposed pipeline would be about 550 miles long, with one line bringing natural gas to North Carolina and a lateral line delivering natural gas to Hampton Roads on the Virginia Coast.
  • The pipe itself is proposed to be 42 inches in diameter in West Virginia and Virginia. In North Carolina, it would be 36 inches, and the Hampton Roads pipeline would be 20 inches in diameter.
  • Three compressor stations are planned as part of the project. One station would be on the Harrison/Lewis County line, one in central Virginia, and one near the lateral split on the border of Virginia and North Carolina.
  • If constructed, the capacity of the pipeline is projected to be 1.5 billion cubic feet per day.

Right now, Orndorff says Dominion is still in the surveying phase. “As we do investigations on this pipeline, we seek permission first before we step foot on anyone’s property,” he said. “We don’t have to do that in West Virginia, but we choose to do that. We choose to do the right thing.”

“If somebody does not give us permission to be on their property, we will not go on their property,” Orndorff said. “And if at some point in time, we have to be on that property, we will try to find a way to work with that landowner to be on that property.”

Orndorff explained that the proposed Southeast Reliability Project would be a transport pipeline, which means Pocahontas County and several others along the pipeline wouldn’t have access to the natural gas. He also said the county would see “a tremendous amount of business” while work crews would be in the area during the construction phase, but Project Supervisor Greg Park said the jobs would likely be given to unionized workers.

“Typically with a job this size, a project this size, more likely this will be a union project,” Park said. “There will be a union contractor. They’re required by the contract with negotiations that they can only bring in 50% from different states, and then the other 50% is out of the local union halls.”

The county commission raised the concern that a 42” pipeline has never been built in a place like Pocahontas County, with mountainous terrain and frequent elevation changes. Orndoff indicated that a project of such magnitude in this area would be “a risk.”

“Obviously, the larger the pipeline, the heavier the pipeline, the heavier the pipe and the harder it is to build,” Orndorff said. “We understand that, but that’s a risk we take. But to serve this market, that’s the capacity this market is asking for us to deliver. So we understand that this is not going to be an easy project.”

According to Orndorff, Dominion will submit a pre-filing application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), “at some point in time fairly soon.” If all goes according to plan, Dominion could receive a FERC Certificate in the Summer of 2016, with construction taking place from 2017-2018. He said that two open houses will take place in the next month.

Story By

Megan Moriarty

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