CHARLESTON – Since December 2018, work to complete the 600m Atlantic Coastal Pipeline has been halted, causing hundreds of jobs to be lost and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue across the state.
On February 23, the United States Supreme Court appeared ready to remove an obstacle to the construction of the Atlantic coast pipeline, with most judges expressing skepticism about a lower court ruling that launched a key permit necessary for the pipeline. crossed the Appalachian trail.
Thanks to this skepticism, Charlie Burd, executive director of the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association, said he was optimistic that the United States Supreme Court will annul the Fourth Circuit’s decision that the United States Forest Service did not the authority to grant a way right that allows the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest.
“These pipelines are vital, not only for West Virginia oil and gas, but for the end users where the gas is being transported, and it is [needed] to make sure we have adequate national security and are able to produce energy in our country, “he said.
Burd said Dominion halted progress on the pipeline in December 2018 and “hundreds of pipelineers have gone to work on other pipelines in other parts of the country,” while Dominion has done his best to retain as many as possible in the area.
Due to the suspension, Burd said hundreds of thousands of dollars have been lost by local vendors in taxes, groceries, leasing spaces, camping areas and more.
Burd said he hopes the pipeline will continue, which would benefit far beyond the oil and gas sector alone.
Steven Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, confirmed the negative effects that the blockade of the pipeline had on workers and the economy of the mountain state.
“The economic impact on West Virginia is significant. It has caused many, many construction workers to be out of work this winter and a huge loss of tax revenue. We have a lot of natural gas in West Virginia, much more than he previously thought, (but) gas markets are larger outside of West Virginia. Our ability to produce and collect severance taxes is hampered if we can’t sell gas out of state, “he said.
With West Virginia being a large supplier to communities outside the state, the pipeline shutdown and the difficulties it created have been tense, he said.
West Virginia is not a “population center” and, for gas to be valuable, it must be brought to those population centers, officials said.
Roberts has now stated that the United States Supreme Court has heard the case, he too is optimistic that the court will allow construction of the pipeline to continue.
As for industry in general, Burd said that wells are being drilled today “much more efficiently than three and four years ago.” The number of subcontractors at well sites does not decrease too much, he said.
Burd said that when he sees companies lay off workers, he’s on the downstream side of things.
Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, has agreed with Burd that production efficiency has made those in the industry capable of producing more products at lower costs, but the industry as a whole is in a low price environment of raw materials.
“It will be like this for a while,” he said.
Several budget cuts have been made and some in the industry have moved to sell their assets in the state.
“I think it’s really important for people to understand that we’re at a critical point in the industry,” he said.
The state must focus on policies that encourage investment to increase demand and get the price where it needs to be, he said.
As for the Atlantic coast pipeline, she said that she and “WVONGA are optimistic and very supportive of the pipeline and the project. We think the United States Supreme Court will stand in favor of issuing the permit, “he said.
If the United States Supreme Court allows the continuation of the Atlantic coastal pipeline, the structure will originate in the Mountain State, traveling 600 underground miles through Virginia, with one side extending to Chesapeake, Virginia, and then continuing towards south in eastern North Carolina, it ends in Robeson County, according to the pipeline web page.
Two additional shorter sides will connect to two Dominion Energy power plants in the counties of Brunswick and Greensville in North Carolina.
According to the pipeline website, the pipeline will transport American energy to millions of consumers in Virginia and North Carolina.
Pipeline customers are five of the region’s largest public utilities: Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Virginia Natural Gas, and North Carolina Public Service Company.
Together, these public services provide home heating, electricity and industrial energy to millions of homes, businesses, schools and hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.